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Spain to add Covid-19 vaccine passport to travel corridor scheme

Spain's Tourism Minister has announced that Covid vaccination certificates or passports will form part of the safe travel corridor scheme her government is preparing to allow the reopening of international tourism.

Spain to add Covid-19 vaccine passport to travel corridor scheme
Although Covid vaccine passports are not yet a reality in Spain, the country's Tourism Minister has already added it to the safe travel protocol. Photo: AFP

Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto on Monday told journalists in Castellón (Valencia) that her government plans to incorporate vaccine passports or certificates to the safe travel corridors they are planning, as “an element of safe mobility”.

“We already have safety protocols in place but we want to take another step to help restart travel as soon as the coronavirus situation allows for it,” Maroto said.

There is no indication Spain’s Tourism Ministry intends to replace negative PCR or antigen tests with vaccine passports as a means of proving one doesn’t have Covid-19 before entering Spain, but rather these will be another way of guaranteeing that there isn’t infection risk.

Minister Maroto added that her government was working with the EU and the OECD to “adopt common protocols that give travellers the confidence that they can travel safely”.

However Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón is reported to not be convinced by the prospect of Spain adopting and allowing a Covid-19 vaccine passport “for the moment”, suggesting that “a lot more research is needed” and “it can’t be set up quickly”.

Regarding Spain’s Tourism Ministry's planned safe travel corridors, Reyes Maroto stated that Spain was already a pioneer in this regard and had set them up “with great agility” last summer.

READ MORE:  What parts of Spain are likely to open up to tourists first?

“We already have these protocols approved for use in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands and we are working with the Valencia region, Catalonia and Andalusia,” Maroto stated.

The reality is that last year’s travel corridors had limited success as Spain’s Canary Islands and the Balearics, the two main locations to trial them last summer, were affected by restrictions and travel bans both at home and abroad due to ever-changing infection rates, meaning the scheme never really took off.

When international tourism will restart again in Spain is the big question that remains.

Maroto said that the opening of international tourism fair Fitur at the end of May was “great news” as it “would allow the world to see how Spain and the Valencia region were a quality and safe destination”.

“The pandemic sets the pace,” she said when asked if her department believed it was possible to ‘save Easter’ in terms of tourism, adding that once the infection and vaccines figures are favourable it would be easier to set a date.

Maroto did add nonetheless that if Spain’s government's vaccination campaign goes to plan and herd immunity is achieved throughout the summer “it gives hope and certainty that that the second semester of 2021 will be when the reactivation of the tourism sector” takes place.

“We must be prudent and not take a step backwards, which can lead to a new wave, and the consequences for the tourism sector would be potentially worse,” Maroto concluded.

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TRAVEL NEWS

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.

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