Spain’s Valencia region to reopen bar and restaurant terraces after 40 days

Bars, cafés and restaurants in the eastern Spanish region will be allowed to reopen on Tuesday March 2 after 40 days of government imposed closures, but there will still be restrictions in place for these businesses and their customers.

Spain's Valencia region to reopen bar and restaurant terraces after 40 days
People enjoy the sunny weather at a terrace at La Malvarrosa beach in Valencia, on May 19, 2020.Photo: AFP

Valencia’s government has given the green light for the region’s approximately 32,500 bars and restaurants (pre-Covid figures) to reopen to the public on Tuesday March 2.

There will be no limit on the total capacity of terraces but tables will have to be separated according to safety distance regulations and the maximum number of people per table is set at six.

Customers will not be allowed access to the bars’ and restaurants’ interior.

This will prove to be a major problem for around 50 percent of hospitality businesses as they don’t have a terrace or space outside available.

After appealing to the Generalitat government, the region’s Health Department finally decided that it could not allow customers inside these establishments as it poses too much of a health risk.

Closing time is yet to be confirmed by Valencian authorities, with hospitality representatives pushing for it to be until the region’s curfew time at 10pm and government and health authorities preferring for it to be at 6pm when non-essential shops currently close.

There are also ongoing discussions relating to whether these non-essential retailers in the region of 5 million people should be allowed to stay open until 8pm.

Although many bar and restaurant owners in the Comunitat Valenciana will be relieved by the news since they were forced to close on January 21, the Valencian Business Confederation of Hospitality and Tourism (Conhostur) has called the measures “insufficient”.

What are the Covid restrictions in Valencia and other parts of Spain?

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FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

There has been some confusion in the Spanish and English-language press following the announcement this week that Spain has scrapped its Covid health travel form. Here’s what Brits, Americans and other international travellers need to know about Spain’s existing travel restrictions. 

FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

(Scroll down to the bottom if you want the quick answer).

In recent days, Spanish authorities have made two important announcements regarding the country’s Covid-19 entry rules for foreigners. 

Firstly, Spain extended until November 15th the requirement that non-EU visitors must show a Covid-19 vaccination, test or recovery certificate to enter the country. 

A few days later, the Spanish government announced it would no longer require any international travellers to fill in and show its SpTH health control form.

For those who are unfamiliar with Spain’s complex Covid travel rules, the two changes seemed to contradict each other, or suggest that Spain had U-turned on its decision. 

Indeed, UK newspapers such as The Independent wrongly ran with “Spain finally drops all Covid travel restrictions”, a headline it has since amended. 

Even Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE stated that Spain had ditched the Covid passport requirement.

Both these statements are incorrect.

To clarify, a Covid-19 certificate or passport is one document, and Spain’s health control form is another; they are not the same. 

A Covid-19 certificate is issued by authorities in the country where you were vaccinated or tested, whereas the SpTH form was issued by Spanish authorities.

In any case, the SpTH health control form is now officially not required and will not have to be completed by any international traveller arriving in Spain by air or sea.

The discontinuation of this travel form means that non-EU tourists such as Americans, Australians and Canadians and all other non-EU travellers no longer have to complete this step before arrival in Spain.

For British tourists visiting Spain nothing changes in this regard as the UK has long been on the list of 48 non-EU countries with a certificate equivalency deal with the EU, which exempted their nationals from having to fill in Spain’s health control form. 

Now for the other important matter. 

Non-EU tourists visiting Spain still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery to visit Spain. 

It applies to all non-EU travellers over the age of 12, but it does not apply to EU citizens or third-country nationals who reside in the EU.

This long-standing Covid travel rule remains in place until at least November 15th 2022.

There was no U-turn in this regard as there is no mention of the Covid-19 passport or certificate being ditched in the Spanish state bulletin (BOE) that focused on the cancellation of the SpTH form. 

Therefore, non-EU tourists such as Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders still have to show one of three documents to be able to enter Spain. These are: 

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate –  Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior of departure or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior of departure. 
  • A recovery certificate –  This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status.

Face masks are also still required on planes which are bound for Spain, but you don’t have to wear one at the airport.