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COVID-19

Spain to introduce coronavirus testing at airports to ease travel

Airport operator Aena plan to set up Covid-19 testing centres in departure lounges at airports across Spain in a bid to ease travel.

Spain to introduce coronavirus testing at airports to ease travel
Photo: AFP

The company announced on Friday that it will lease out areas for COVID-19 testing clinics at 15 airports identified as key tourist hubs  across Spain. 

These are: Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, Málaga-Costa del Sol, Alicante-Elche, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Tenerife Sur, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, César Manrique-Lanzarote and La Palma.

The diagnostic facilities will provide quick PCR, antigenic and serological tests to detect both active infections and the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, and will have isolation areas for travellers awaiting their results.

But the service won’t be available for those arriving in Spain from high risk countries and those travellers will continue to need to show negative test results before they can travel.

 

“The clinics will be in departure lounges… (for) passengers who will need (tests) in their destination airports, not for those who land in our airports, who will need to bring their tests from their places of origin to pass the health controls in place since May across our network,” the company said in a statement.

“This service will help facilitate the return of passengers to their destination,” the statement added.

 

Travellers will have to make online reservations at the clinics ahead of travel and will be told how long they will have to wait for the test results so they can ensure enough time before boarding their flight.

Those who test positive will not be allowed to fly and will have to follow the protocol established by the health authority in the region.

The statement added that companies contracted to run the clinics in the airports must keep the prices of tests competitive and not exceed the costs of a test in a clinic outside the airport. 

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COVID-19

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Spanish health experts have advised the government that the use of masks should no longer be obligatory on public transport, but no concrete date has yet been set.

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health have said that masks should no longer be mandatory on public transport, but with the caveat that the government should first wait and observe the epidemiological situation in China, which has experienced a surge in case numbers since it abandoned its strict ‘Zero Covid’ strategy at the end of 2022, following widespread civil unrest.

The use of masks on public transport has now been the norm in Spain for almost three years, since the start of the pandemic. 

Speaking to Ser Canarias, Darias said: “We are getting closer and closer [to the end of having to wear a mask], but we will have to see how things evolve in order to make that decision; obviously the epidemiological situation is getting better and better, but we have to see how the issue of China evolves”. 

Reports in the Spanish press suggest some kind of agreement was made during a meeting between the government and the experts in December that masks would no longer be compulsory after assessing the situation in China, however, there is still no fixed date.

Back in October 2022, Spain’s ‘Emergency Unit’ suggested that mask rules would not be reviewed until March 2023 at the earliest, but more recently it said that it does not seem necessary to wait for March to remove the mask rule. 

According to recent Ministry of Health figures, just 2.79 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: Face masks to remain mandatory on public transport in Spain until March 2023

The use of masks indoors in Spain ceased to be mandatory on April 20th, 2022, after almost two years, however, they have remained mandatory in hospitals, pharmacies and, crucially, also on buses, metro, trains, planes and taxis.

While the mask rules have been strictly enforced in some places in Spain such as Seville and Valencia, in other cities such as Barcelona, many people refuse to wear them, despite the regulations still officially being in place. 

READ ALSO: Spain now requires Covid certificates for arrivals from China

In China, figures suggest that almost 60,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in a single month amid the spike in cases following the end of the country’s draconian restrictions. In response, Spain reintroduced health control checks for travellers arriving from China. 

It seems that Darias and the Spanish government are waiting to see how the situation plays out in China first, but all the indications and expert advice seems to suggest that masks will no longer be mandatory in public transport sometime very soon. 

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