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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TRAVEL: What Covid-19 entry requirements does Spain still have?

The pandemic no longer dominates daily life and travel, but do Spanish authorities still have restrictions in place for international travellers arriving during the summer of 2022?

TRAVEL: What Covid-19 entry requirements does Spain still have?

Spain’s tourism industry is in full swing again after two difficult years, with more than 38 million international visitors in the first half of 2022. 

All domestic restrictions have ended (with the exception of mask wearing in hospitals, other health-related centres, care homes and on public transport). 

But how about Covid-19 travel restrictions? Are the tests, form-filling and proof of vaccination that made travel to Spain in 2020 and 2021 more complicated still in place?

EU/Schengen Area countries

Passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea from EU and/or Schengen countries are not required to show proof of their Covid-19 status through a certificate (vaccination, testing or recovery) nor fill in the SpTH health control form that was previously needed.

For travellers who live in EU/Schengen nations, travel to Spain is now practically the same as it was in 2019 before the pandemic began, except that they will be required to wear a mask on the plane or inside the ferry (mask wearing on the latter depends on certain conditions).

Non-EU/Schengen countries

For UK nationals, Americans, Indians, Australians and all other third-country nationals who don’t reside in Spain/EU and arrive in Spain by air or sea, the pre-existing Covid-19 requirements are technically (more on this further down) still in place.

Therefore, non-EU/Schengen travellers arriving in Spain should be able to prove either that they’re:

  • Fully vaccinated. Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • Had a Covid-19 test which came back negative. This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to departure. 
  • Recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status on entry to Spain. 

The easiest way to show proof of one of the above is by showing your Covid-19 digital or paper certificate issued by the relevant authority of your country. So far, 48 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate equivalence system, which you can check out here

If the country where you were issued a vaccination, testing or recovery certificate isn’t on the list, then you will have to fill in Spain’s health control form before travel to Spain. 

It’s worth noting that the above requirements do not apply to children under the age of 12.

Is Spain really still asking non-EU travellers to show a Covid-19 certificate?

This really depends on the airport, the airport official and any other number of factors.

It is clear that Covid-19 and the seriousness with which Spain’s Health Ministry and therefore airport border officials treat the pandemic has fallen considerably in recent months.

Many non-EU travellers have commented on Twitter about the fact that they were not asked to show any proof of Covid vaccination, testing or recovery upon arrival in Spain. 

Others who have visited the country during the summer of 2022 have said that they were asked to provide proof of their Covid status.

Therefore, even though for those who go to the trouble of paying for a Covid-19 test which then doesn’t get checked it can seem like a waste of money, it is better to be safe than sorry.

All non-EU travellers who don’t live in Spain or the EU/Schengen Area should therefore keep in mind that, technically speaking, Spain’s rules still state that arrivals from outside of the EU/Schengen Area by air or sea must have proof of vaccination, testing or recovery, so make sure you carry this with you.