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US reclassifies Spain again: What does it mean for American travellers?

The US State Department has tightened travel restrictions for Spain as well as for dozens of other countries with rising Covid infection rates. What does this mean for Americans who want to visit Spain in July or August 2021?

US reclassifies Spain again: What does it mean for American travellers?

On Monday July 26th, the US moved Spain from being on its “reconsider travel” list (level 3) to “do not travel” (level 4).

The decision by the US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means that Spain is back on the “very high” category highest risk classification for travel. 

Does this mean US nationals cannot travel to Spain in July and August?

No, US nationals can still travel to Spain.

In fact, the United States is currently on Spain’s list of non-EU nations which are exempt from all travel restrictions (no need to show proof of vaccination, Covid test, recovery etc), although they do need to fill in a health control form. 

However, the CDC does recommend that people in the US “avoid travel to Spain”, even though there is no outright travel ban or quarantine on return requirement. 

“If you must travel to Spain, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” writes the medical body which the US State Department collaborates with to determine travel restrictions. 

This is an appropriate recommendation for unvaccinated travellers given that Spain’s fortnightly infection rate has grown more than sevenfold in five weeks to the current 702 cases per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Spain’s fifth Covid wave – What are the new restrictions in each region in July?

Covid cases have also been rising again in the United States, mainly due to the prevalence of the Delta variant among people who have not been vaccinated despite the wide availability of doses.

It could mean that Spain will take the US off its list of third countries that are exempt from travel restrictions (check for updates under “risk countries/areas here), although fears of dissuading American tourists may lead Spanish authorities to turn a blind eye during the crucial summer season. 

If this did occur, American tourists and visitors arriving in Spain would most likely have to show proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or proof of recovery. 

READ MORE: What are the new rules for travel to Spain for all international travellers? 

Dozens of other countries around the world are on the US’s ‘do not travel’ list, which you can check here

Since January 26th 2021, all returning travellers to the US (age 2 and older) are required to present a negative viral Covid test taken within three days prior to departure on their U.S.-bound flight, including those flying from Spain. 

All travellers should have a plan in case they have to extend their stay if they test positive right before leaving Spain,” writes the US Embassy in Spain

“Since COVID testing is required to enter the United States, there have been many instances where travellers who were planning to depart on scheduled flights have tested positive and have had to remain in Spain longer than originally planned.

“Spanish health authorities will instruct you to isolate/quarantine for a period of time (7 to 10 days minimum) in a local hotel at your own expense. 

“The Embassy or Consulate cannot assist you in getting back to the United States earlier than prescribed by Spanish health authorities or provide monetary assistance for any required extended lodging”.

Before you travel to Spain, make sure you double-check the latest information on the websites of the US State Department ,the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Embassy in Spain.

READ MORE: US issues ‘do not travel’ warning for Spain due to rising Delta cases

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Spain’s summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Following the announcement that Ryanair and EasyJet staff have added further strike days in July 2022, we list the dates that travellers looking to fly to and from Spain may want to avoid booking tickets for.

Spain's summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Strike action by Spain-based cabin crew working for Ryanair and EasyJet will continue throughout the month of July, unions representing staff for Europe’s two biggest low-cost airlines have confirmed.

EasyJet’s strike days in July will continue as initially announced on June 21st.

In Ryanair’s case, the six-day stoppage was meant to come to an end on Saturday July 2nd, but a further 12 days of strikes have been added throughout the month of July due to the failure to reach an agreement over cabin crew’s low pay and work conditions. 

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” USO unionist Lidia Arasanz said with regard to the 1,900 Ryanair employees they represent.

So far, the stoppages by Ryanair and Easyjet staff have not meant that absolutely all their flights to and from Spain have been cancelled, but dozens of scheduled flights have indeed not taken off and hundreds more have suffered delays on these previous strike days. 

Minimum services have been provided for flights within the Spanish mainland and to and from the Canary and Balearic Islands, especially those leaving from Madrid, Málaga, Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza airports.

A Ryanair cabin crew member holds a placard reading “Ryanair, low salaries made simple” as she protests at Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

For international flights the situation is more complicated, especially for Ryanair passengers with scheduled flights from Belgium, Italy, France and Portugal, as the low-cost airline’s cabin crew in those countries have also joined the strikes.

Even though that UK-based Ryanair and EasyJet staff are not on strike, the sheer number of flights between Spain and the UK has meant that thousands of British holidaymakers have already been affected.

Málaga, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca’s airports have reportedly been the most affected by Ryanair and EasyJet flight cancellations thus far.

READ ALSO: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Many EasyJet and Ryanair passengers who have already booked flights to and from Spain for July will no doubt want to know with plenty of notice if their flight will be cancelled, something that is impossible to know at this stage.

Ryanair’s management has said it expects “minimal (if any) disruption to its flight schedules in July as a result of minor and poorly- supported Spanish labour strikes”, although if what’s happened over the course of late June and early July is anything to go on, that won’t necessarily be the case.

The Irish carrier did acknowledge that “air traffic control strikes and airport staff shortages across Europe (which are beyond Ryanair’s control) may however cause some minor disruption and passengers whose flights are disrupted will be notified by email/SMS”.

It is possible to use Ryanair’s flight tracker to check on the status of your upcoming flight, but you’re unlikely to get accurate information if done lots of days in advance.

Dozens of EasyJet flights have been cancelled so far, even though the airline’s management says it intends to operate all of them. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

EasyJet has also said it intends to operate all its scheduled flights in July, whilst acknowledging that there could be some delays and other disruption. 

On Sunday July 3rd, eight EasyJet flights to and from Spain were cancelled and 46 were delayed.

On Tuesday July 5th, EasyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew resigned, allegedly “to pursue other business opportunities”, news which certainly suggests that all is not well at the Luton-headquartered airline.

You can also use EasyJet’s flight tracker here to find out if your flight is going ahead

For those of you who have booked a Ryanair or Easyjet flight to and/or from Spain for July, or those who are considering doing so, the following is a breakdown of all the scheduled strike days by both airlines for the coming weeks.

Ryanair strike days 

Tuesday July 12th

Wednesday July 13th

Thursday July 14th

Friday July 15th

Monday July 18th

Tuesday July 19th

Wednesday July 20th

Thursday July 21st

Monday July 25th

Tuesday July 26th

Wednesday July 27th

Thursday July 28th

Easyjet strike days

Friday July 15th

Saturday July 16th

Sunday July 17th

Friday July 29th

Saturday July 30th

Sunday July 31st