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COVID-19

Galicia becomes first region in Spain to require Covid ‘health pass’ to access bars, restaurants

Galicia is the first territory in Spain to require its citizens to show proof of their Covid health status to gain access to the interior of cafés, bars and restaurants. 

Galicia becomes first region in Spain to require Covid 'health pass' to access bars, restaurants
A waitress serves take-away coffee in Santiago de Compostela. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

From Thursday July 22th, authorities in the northwestern region of Galicia will expect residents of municipalities with a high or very high infection rate have to show proof that they are immunised against Covid-19 or that they don’t have the virus if they want to go inside their local bars and restaurants. 

This can be done by showing proof of a negative Covid test taken within the last 72 hours, a certificate of full vaccination or proof of recovery from the illness over the past six months

The Covid Digital Certificate issued by each autonomous community in Spain (primarily used for travel) allows people in Spain to create a verified digital document displaying any of these three Covid ‘health passes’.

READ MORE: How to get a Digital Covid Certificate in Spain’s different regions

Galician president Alberto Núñez Feijóo made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday in which he spoke about other new restrictions in the region of 2.7 million people, where the fortnightly infection is currently 502 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

READ MORE: What are the new restrictions in each region of Spain in July?

“We can no longer punish the hospitality sector by forcing them to close and that is why we will keep bars and restaurants open,” Feijóo argued while justifying measures similar to those in place in neighbouring France and Portugal.

“It’s the most appropriate formula to weather this situation.”

Galicia is therefore the first region in Spain to confirm residents will need a Covid health pass to do something as quintessentially Spanish as having a morning coffee at the bar or some tapas in the evening.

The measure still has to be ratified by the Galician High Court but bar and restaurant owners have already started asking customers for proof of a Covid health pass or closing their interiors completely to the public to avoid possible fines, according to local news sources.

It’s not the first time Galicia’s right-wing government implements stricter Covid measures than are commonplace in Spain, having previously been the only region to make Covid vaccines compulsory and the only place which requires visitors from other parts of mainland Spain to notify Galician health authorities when they arrive

But how likely is it that other Spanish regions will follow in the footsteps of Galicia and other EU countries and require a Covid health pass to eat and drink out?

READ MORE: Will Spain require a Covid ‘health pass’ to go to bars, restaurants and events like other EU countries?

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FACE MASKS

Spain calls for return of face masks indoors as Covid cases rise

Spain’s Health Ministry has recommended Spaniards put their masks back on in indoor public settings, calling for "caution" as the seventh coronavirus wave sees cases and hospitalisations rise across the country.

Spain calls for return of face masks indoors as Covid cases rise

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Friday recommended people wear face masks again in indoor public settings as Covid cases and hospitalisations in late June and early July returned to levels not seen since February 2022.

Darias called for “caution” and “responsible mask usage” at a time of increased travel in Spain and with many doctors and nurses booking off time for their summer holidays.

Similar sentiments about the return of face masks indoors have already been shared by the health authorities in some of Spain’s other regions, including Catalonia and Madrid. 

Catalan Health Minister Josep Maria Argimon recommended that those recovering from Covid should continue to wear a mask due to the increase in Covid patients admitted to the ICU in the region, which has increased from 26 to 46 in the space of three weeks.  

Madrid Vice President Enrique Ossorio also suggested that masks should be reintroduced in certain situations, due to the rise of cases seen in the region. Masks should be worn by “vulnerable people, those who are immunosuppressed and those who are pregnant,” he argued.

Ossorio also recommended that the use of face masks be extended to enclosed public spaces and large events.

After two years of compulsory usage in indoor public settings, Spanish authorities lifted the indoor face mask rule on April 20th, having already removed the requirement for outdoors on February 10th

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Spain’s Health Minister also urged that those aged 80 and over should receive a fourth Covid vaccine dose, but has not specified when this will happen, even though this was already been approved in early June.   

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

“The Health Ministry is going to continue working hand in hand with the advice of experts who’ve introduced an exemplary vaccination strategy,” Darias explained.

On Friday July 1st, 10,249 people were in hospital with Covid-19 in Spain, a figure not seen since February 17th 2022. As for ICU admissions, there were 449 Covid patients in total.

Madrid currently has a fortnightly infection rate of 1,500 cases per 100,00 inhabitants for people aged 60 and over, as Spain stopped counting each and every Covid-19 cases last March and focused only on serious infections and those affecting the elderly. 

That’s why experts are referring to this seventh coronavirus wave as the “silent” one, with no way of truly knowing how many people are getting infected or reinfected in Spain. 

Darias said that the Covid situation is being monitored carefully and that rise in cases is mainly down to the new omicron sub-variants BA4 and BA5, which are more transmissible but are milder than previous variants.

The Minister added that the Spanish government has provided its regions with medicines that are “very important” in the treatment of Covid, such as the antiviral Paxlovid, of which 344,000 sets of pills have been purchased, which help prevent an infected person from developing a serious illness, as well as Evusheld to protect people who do not generate their own antibodies. 

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