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When can Irish holidaymakers and second home owners travel to Spain?

Irish holidaymakers and second home owners are currently not allowed to travel to Spain due to Irish government restrictions, but when might this be possible again?

When will Irish travellers be able to return to Spain?
Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

Spain is one of the top holiday destinations for Irish tourists, being the most popular country for travellers from Ireland for the four years prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020.

In 2019, Spain welcomed almost two million Irish holidaymakers to its shores.

So, when will Irish travellers and second home owners be able to holiday in Spain again?

There is currently an Irish Government Advisory in operation against all non-essential international travel, which means that travel to Spain is not allowed right now, but will this change in time for the summer season?

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin has suggested that there may be a possibility of holiday travel within Europe starting from late July or August, if the risks associated with Covid-19 are low enough to allow it.

When asked on Morning Ireland RTÉ Radio, whether this will mean that holidaymakers will be able to fly to Spain in late July and August, he replied that the advice was certain that people should avoid all non-essential travel for May and June.  

However, he confirmed that the situation would open up more in July, if transmission rates continued to decline.

“We cannot stay disconnected forever. Ireland is a globalised country,” he said.

“We have to assess all the risks as we move forward. Travel resuming towards the latter half of July is a possibility,” he continued.

Tánaiste (Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar echoed these sentiments when on April 29th, he told the Irish Independent: “It is, I think just too soon for that return to international travel”, promising the Government would study the issue next month.

“We may be able to allow international travel among countries where the population is substantially vaccinated, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

However, Spain’s Tourism Minister Fernando Valdés has said that Spain will welcome visitors from June.

He outlined the plans at the World Travel & Tourism Council summit in Mexico last week, saying that Spain would participate in a pilot digital certificate scheme in May and would be “ready to receive visitors in June”.

The EU’s Covid-19 certificates, formerly known as Digital Green Certificates, will allow travel to resume across the bloc’s 27 member states by providing information on whether tourists have been vaccinated already, if they have a negative PCR test or if they’ve recently recovered from Covid-19.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the EU Covid passports and how will they work in practice?

Initially, Taoiseach Martin highlighted the difficulties in the domestic use of such a document and voiced concerns about how the Covid-19 passport could be discriminatory and limit the freedoms of members of the public who have not yet had a vaccine.

However, on May 1st, it was announced that Ireland is among a group of EU countries that have signed up to a pilot to test the certificate.

A target date of June 1st has been set for the technical launch of the certificates with an actual start date of June 30th. 

It is not yet clear, however, how the millions of people who have already been vaccinated will get hold of one.

So, when the EU’s Digital Green Certificates are finally issued and the Irish government agrees that its citizens can travel once more, it’s likely that travel to Spain can resume. For Irish travellers, it’s looking like a Spanish vacation may be on the cards for late summer.  

READ ALSO: Spain will allow EU travellers with vaccine passports to sidestep covid tests and quarantines

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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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