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CHRISTMAS

What changes about life in Spain in December 2020?

December will be marked by curfews and border closures with a slight loosening of restrictions for the Christmas period.

What changes about life in Spain in December 2020?
Sushuti/Pixabay

December 2020 will be a very different month than what we’re used to in Spain during the festive period.

After a tough November, some regions have begun to lift their Covid-19 restrictions slightly, allowing for restaurants and bars to open again, such as in Catalonia, however there are still curfews and many other restrictions in place. Read on to find out what's changing this month. 

Closed borders

The government has announced an extension of its border closure policy until December 31st. Changes have also been made to the list of countries you can travel from to enter the Schengen zone, which currently only includes Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay and China. READ MORE HERE

Negative Covid-19 test to enter Spain

As of November 23rd and throughout December, travellers from more than 60 countries who want to enter Spain, will need to provide a negative Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours, before they fly. Click here to find out the full details.


Photo:: fernando zhiminaicela/Pixabay

 

Puente de la Constitución

The Puente de la Constitución o de la Inmaculada links two public holidays to form a four day long weekend from Friday 4th December until Tuesday 8th. Most regions in Spain have decided to keep their borders closed, meaning that travel beyond your region may not be possible this holiday. Madrid has announced that it will remain closed between December 4 – 14th, the Basque Country and Andalusia will close until December 10th and Valencia and Murcia will close until December 9th.

Other regions have already announced that their borders will close beyond the Puente period. Catalonia will remain closed until December 21st, La Rioja until the 19th and Navarra until the 18th.

Christmas

Every region will have slightly different rules for the Christmas period, but it’s clear that this Christmas will be different and several restrictions will remain in place. While some regions are sticking to the rule of no more than six people, it has been proposed that in Catalonia and Madrid, that this will increase to 10 over Christmas (December 24, 25 and 31, and January 1 and 6). Some regions want to exlude children under the age of 14 (who are thought to not be very contagious) from the maximum number, but the maximum social group may not be allowed to include more than two household ‘bubbles’.

The Local will publish updates on regional plans over the Christmas period as the measures are announced.

Curfews are to remain in place over the Christmas holidays, except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when there will likely be an extension. The government has proposed delaying the curfew until 1am while Madrid's regional government is lobbying for a further delay until 1.30am in the capital.

READ MORE: What we know about Spain's plan for Christmas coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pixabay

 

 

Brexit

Those wishing to remain in Spain after the Brexit transition period will have until December 31th to start their residency process (if they don’t have it already) and to apply to change over their driving license to a Spanish one.

To find out how to get an appointment to change your driving license click here and to find out how to register for residency or change your NIE for a TIE click here

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For members

BREXIT

UK driving licences in Spain: When no news is bad news

The UK Ambassador to Spain has given an update on the driving licence debacle, with nothing new to genuinely give hope to the thousands of in-limbo drivers whose increasing frustration has led one group to try and take matters into their own hands.

UK driving licences in Spain: When no news is bad news

It’s been almost five months since UK driving licence holders residing in Spain were told they could no longer drive on Spanish roads. 

Since that fateful May 1st, an unnamed number of the approximately 400,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain, as well as hundreds if not thousands of Spaniards and foreign nationals who passed their driving test in the UK, have not been able to use their vehicles in Spain or even rent one. 

What adds insult to injury is that British tourists visiting Spain can rent a car without any issue. The fact that Spanish licence holders living in the UK can also continue to exchange their permits in the UK 21 months after Brexit came into force is equally hard to swallow.

READ MORE: ‘An avoidable nightmare’ – How UK licence holders in Spain are affected by driving debacle

The latest update from UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott on September 27th has done little to quell the anger and sense of helplessness felt by those caught in this bureaucratic rabbit hole.

“I wanted to talk to you personally about the driving licences negotiations, which I know are continuing to have a serious impact on many of you,” Elliott began by saying.

“As the government’s representative in Spain, I hear and understand your frustrations. I too am frustrated by the pace.

“We previously thought, we genuinely thought, that we’d have concluded negotiations by the summer. 

“Many of you have quite rightly mentioned that I expressed the hope to you that we’d have you back on the road by the end of July.

“Now the truth is it has taken much longer, as there have been unforeseen issues that we have been working very hard to resolve. 

“And I’m as disappointed as you are by the length of time that this is actually taking. 

“But, please, be assured that we are resolving those issues, one by one. There are only a couple of issues left, but they are complex.”

It has previously been suggested by the UK Embassy that Spain has asked for data provision to form part of the exchange agreement, and that British authorities were reluctant to share said information on British drivers’ records, including possible infractions. 

Whether this is still one of the causes of the holdups is unknown, given how opaque the Embassy is being in this regard. 

“We’re working on this every day, it remains a priority,” the UK Ambassador continued.

“There is a lot going on behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you. 

“I know too that you want a timescale and you want an update after every meeting.

“But I’m afraid I just can’t give you those things in this negotiation.” 

The ambassador’s words are unlikely to appease those who are still unable to drive. 

A few weeks ago, a Facebook group called “Invasion of the British embassy in Madrid for the DL exchange issue” was set up, which so far has more than 400 members. 

The group’s administrator, Pascal Siegmund, is looking to set up a meeting with the British Embassy and Spanish authorities to shed light on the impact that not being allowed to drive is having on the life of thousands of UK licence holders in Spain. 

Many of those affected are sharing their stories online, explaining how, due to administrative errors on the part of Spain’s DGT traffic authority, they were unable to process their licence exchange before the deadline. 

This contrasts with the little sympathy shown by UK licence holders who were able to exchange and other commentators, who accuse those in limbo of not having bothered to complete the process, arguing that it’s essentially their own fault.

READ ALSO: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault 

“Many of you also continue to ask why you can’t drive while the talks are continuing,” Elliott remarked.

“It is not in the gift of the UK government to reinstate the measures which previously allowed you to continue to drive whilst the negotiations were ongoing earlier in the year. 

“As we said previously, we did request the reinstatement of those measures several times, but this wasn’t granted.”

It’s worth noting that since the news broke on May 1st that UK licence holders residing in Spain for more than six months could no longer drive, no Spanish news outlet has covered the story again. 

Pressure from citizen groups such as the one recently set up and increased awareness about the issue in English-language news sites such as The Local Spain is perhaps the best chance in-limbo drivers have of their voices being heard and the driving licence debacle being finally fixed. 

“I’d say we’re genuinely still making progress,” UK Ambassador Elliott concluded, practically the same message as in previous updates.

“I get how frustrating it is to hear that, but we are making progress. We’re in discussions almost daily about outstanding issues. 

“And I remain very optimistic that we will reach an agreement and hope it will be soon. 

“But as I say, I can’t give you a definitive timetable. 

“And so, the advice that we have been giving all along, which is that you should consider taking the Spanish test if you do need to drive urgently, remains valid. Though we appreciate that’s hard.”

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