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Reader question: Can I travel to Spain if I’ve had both doses of the Covid vaccine?

Travel to Spain is currently heavily restricted, but does it make a difference if you have been vaccinated?

vaccine certificate
Photo: JENS SCHLUETER / AFP

Travel to Spain has been restricted for a while now, with most travellers from outside the EU (including US citizens) barred since last year, while tighter restrictions were placed on travellers from the UK in December 2020.

UPDATE:

This all means that family members haven’t seen each other in a long time and that many who own a second home in Spain, haven’t been able to visit their properties for a long time, let alone those who want to travel here for holidays. 

So, does being fully vaccinated – having received both injection doses – give you a travel exemption and allow you to travel to Spain?

Unfortunately, no. Spanish nationals, foreign residents who can prove residency in Spain and travellers from the EU whose own countries don’t have travel restrictions that prevent them from leaving can come to Spain (following the lates rules in the link below) but Spanish authorities haven’t changed any of their rules yet with regards to other travellers, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. 

Travellers from some countries with low infection rates will be able to make the journey, including those from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, China (subject to reciprocity) and the regions of Hong Kong and Macao. CHECK HERE FOR EU UPDATE

UPDATE: What are the latest rules for travelling to Spain?

These Schengen-wide agreements are still being used by Spanish authorities as the criteria to allow travellers in, rather than whether individuals from any non-EU country have received both vaccine doses. 

That also means that travellers from South Africa and Brazil who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine can, for now, not visit Spain unless they are residents or nationals.

The ongoing restrictions on flights from South Africa and Brazil are in place until at least March 30th in order to contain the new strains of coronavirus in those countries.

The same restrictions apply to travellers from Colombia, Peru, Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

For travellers in other non-EU nations such as the United States, non-essential travel to Spain continues to be restricted until at least March 31st

READ ALSO: When will Americans be able to travel to Spain again?

However, it may be possible that being fully vaccinated will make a difference soon.

Spain, along with several other EU countries, has been discussing the idea of ‘Digital Green Certificates’, essentially a type of vaccine passport.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the plan for a ‘digital green pass’ in a speech to German lawmakers at the beginning of March. 

“The digital green pass would provide proof that a person has received the vaccination as well as test results for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. It would also include information on recovery for anyone who has previously contracted Covid-19”, she later tweeted. 

Later, on March 17th, the Commission adopted a legislative proposal establishing a common framework for the Digital Green Certificates, which they hope to roll out by mid-June. 

Spain’s tourism industry has been campaigning for vaccine passports for a while. Last month, Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto reiterated her government’s commitment to seeing internationally recognised Covid immunity passports or certification approved. 

“Spain will support any tool that facilitates the recovery of safe travel and mobility,” Maroto told journalists, adding that she hoped Spain will be seen as “a country that’s open to the world” and with safe “tourism protocols”.

Spain’s vaccine rollout is still in its relatively early stages, with only people in care homes, the over 80s, health and keyworkers, such as teachers and those in the emergency services having been vaccinated so far.

READ ALSO: Spain’s Covid-19 vaccine calendar: When will I get it? 

The vaccines are currently being administered to those in their 70s, as well as those with underlying health conditions.

Spain hopes to vaccinate the majority of its adult population by the end of summer.

Those living in the EU are currently allowed to enter Spain, however, travel is not being encouraged and those who do enter should have specific reasons for doing so – tourism not being one of them.

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TRAVEL

IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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