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Spain to have vaccine passport system ready by June, tourism minister

Spain's tourism minister Reyes Maroto has said her government plans to have its vaccine passport system ready for tourists by June, although negative PCR tests will still be accepted to enter the country.

Spain to have vaccine passport system ready by June, tourism minister
The vaccine passport will look more like a mobility pass than an actual passport and will probably take the form of a QR code. This image shows a similar vaccine document being used in France. Stock photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

“The forecast is to be able to have the process ready by June,” said Maroto at a meeting with Baleric Island President Francina Armengol, along with tourism industry officials and union leaders.  

In order to have the passport operational by June however, Maroto said it will be necessary “to have a significant percentage of the population vaccinated”. This will need to be at least thirty to forty percent. “We need the maximum certainty in order to have a season without taking risks,” she added.

The Spanish government has said that its aim is to vaccinate 70 percent of the population by the end of the summer, however, the vaccine rollout has been slow. This has been due to supply issues, as well as the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Spanish authorities had also previously set themselves the target of completing 70 percent of the national vaccination campaign before welcoming tourists back en masse, but on March 10th Spanish authorities revised this figure down to 30 to 40 percent vaccinated.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: How is Spain’s vaccination campaign going? 

The Balearic Islands have requested to be the first to test out the vaccination passport pilot scheme, however, Maroto insisted that this will not be necessary because the government is keen to see the scheme rolled out across the whole country.

Maroto said that the passport will look more like a mobility pass and will probably take the form of a QR code.

READ ALSO:

Tourism officials in the Balearics have welcomed the move, but have also requested that this not be the only way to restore travel.

They have asked that negative PCR or antigen tests also be accepted, so as not to rule anyone out.

It is estimated that there are currently around 8,000 tourists holidaying in the Balearic Islands, however, Spanish residents are not allowed to travel there as the borders of each region will be closed over Easter.

Currently, a negative PCR test is required from anyone entering Spain by air or sea.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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