Spain rules out nationwide Covid pass for leisure but regions can control access to bars, restaurants

The Spanish government has announced it will not regulate the use of a health pass to control access to bars, restaurants and other establishments. Instead, it will be up to each regional government to decide its own rules.

Spain rules out nationwide Covid pass for leisure but regions can control access to bars, restaurants
The Spanish government rules out regulating Covid Pass at a national level. Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

Several regions including Madrid, Catalonia, Valencia and Andalusia had already asked the government to regulate the Covid certificates, but on Wednesday these requests were rejected by Health Minister Carolina Darias.

Darias said that each region will be given free rein to decide whether proof of Covid-19 vaccination, a negative test or recovery from the virus will be needed to enter certain public places. However, she is against the use of the EU Digital Covid Certificate for this purpose.

“The regions, within their powers, can establish when these types of documents, such as vaccination tests or recovery certificates will be needed,” said Darias. “At the moment, what the government is doing” is to “continue vaccinating everyone to offer the same opportunities,” she added.

READ ALSO: How to get a Digital Covid Certificate for travel from Spain to the EU

Spain’s Minister of Justice of Madrid Enrique López disagreed with the government’s decision and urged them to “for once, exercise coordination tasks” between regions.

Spokesperson for the government of Castilla-La Mancha, Blanca Fernández also disagreed with Darias’s comments when stating: “It is an issue that must be resolved at a national level, honestly. If a Covid passport is required, for any matter, that is a decision that is made within the national framework, because if we do not, it will drive citizens and tourists crazy”.

Darias has ruled out the possibility that the government will extend the use of the Digital Covid Certificates beyond what they were created for when she explained that they were agreed upon by the European Parliament to facilitate free movement of citizens between the countries in the EU, not to be able to access venues in their own country.

Sources from the European Commission told 20Minutos that nothing prevents governments from developing laws or other legislation that could expand the uses of the “Covid Certificate Technology”.

They have confirmed that the Spanish government could approve a bill or a decree to allow bars, restaurants and museums to ask for the Digital Covid Certificates upon entry.

The only limit placed upon this is that any modification of the stipulated use of the Digital Covid Certificate cannot, in any way, violate the Constitution or the EU Treaties or go against the rights and freedoms of citizens.

Experts admit that the question of using the Digital Covid Certificate to access leisure activities could collide with fundamental freedoms and that it is a “super sensitive” issue because not everyone is able to be vaccinated.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate doesn’t prohibit travel for those who don’t have one but only facilitates those who do. However, if they were to be used to access bars and other leisure places, then they would be prohibiting entry to those who don’t have them.

Galicia became the first region in Spain to require a Covid health pass to enter bars and restaurants. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

On July 22nd, Galicia became 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. 

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.

The Canary Islands government also confirmed soon after that customers at cafés, bars and restaurants on the island of Tenerife, which has just been moved up to risk level 4, will also require a Covid Digital Certificate to access the interior of these establishments. This requirement may be extended to gyms and large cultural events.

France, Austria, Portugal, Italy, and the UK have also all recently introduced a health passport for daily leisure activities.

It has yet to be seen whether other regions in Spain will follow suit and what kind of health proof they will require.


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What are Spain’s current rules for asymptomatic and mild Covid cases?

Spain is currently experiencing an eighth Covid wave. For those who test positive during the summer of 2022, here's a reminder of all the rules and recommendations you need to be aware of, concerning asymptomatic, mild and serious cases.

What are Spain's current rules for asymptomatic and mild Covid cases?

No one wants to get Covid, particularly when the summer season is approaching and many have booked their annual holidays.

But if you do find that you test positive for Covid-19, here’s what you need to know about Spain’s current health rules. 

Whatever questions you have, from wanting to know if you still need to get an official test or inform your doctor, to whether you can go outside and if you need to wear a face mask, we’ve got you covered. 

Q: What if I get Covid but don’t have any symptoms?

A: If you are asymptomatic, in other words you test positive for Covid-19 but don’t experience any symptoms, then it’s not necessary to self-isolate and you are not required to quarantine at home.

Spain’s quarantine requirement for asymptomatic cases was dropped as of March 28th 2022.

However, the health body that advises Spain’s Health Ministry recommends that you still stay at home and rest and that if you do go out, you wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and that you keep social contact to a minimum for a week. 

Q: What if I have mild Covid symptoms?

A: If you have mild Covid symptoms, you fall into the same category as those who have no symptoms for Spanish health authorities.

This means that while it’s not mandatory to isolate at home, you should still rest, wear a mask indoors and outdoors and avoid social contact.

The obligatory quarantine for mild cases was also scrapped as of March 28th, 2022.

Q: What if I have severe Covid symptoms?

A: If you have serious Covid symptoms, Spain’s Health Ministry continues to require a quarantine period of seven days, meaning that it’s mandatory.

It is also still required for those classified as part of the high-risk or vulnerable population, which includes those aged 60 or older, immunosuppressed people and pregnant women. 

Q: Am I allowed to go outside if I have Covid?

A: Yes, as mentioned above, if you have mild or asymptomatic symptoms you are allowed to go outside while you have Covid. However, you should limit your contact with others for a week to make sure you’re not putting others at risk. You should aim to stay at home as much as possible until your symptoms disappear.

Keep in mind that you are highly contagious in the first few days of the illness, so you may want to avoid going out during that time.

Q: Can I go to events if I have Covid-19?

A: Yes, you can leave the house if you have Covid-19, but as you’re expected to limit your contact with others, going to a large event with hundreds of people is not recommended. You could unknowingly be putting vulnerable people at risk. Health authorities still recommend that you avoid gatherings for at least a week after a positive test. 

Q: Do I need to wear a mask if I test positive?

A: The Spanish Health Ministry has confirmed that those who have Covid must wear a mask for “ten days from the diagnosis” of the virus.

They should be worn indoors, as well as outdoors, if a distance can’t be maintained from others. Experts recommend using the FFP2 masks during this time because even if your symptoms are mild, you can still be contagious.

READ ALSO: How likely is it that Spain will make face masks mandatory indoors again?

Q: Can I go to work if I have Covid-19?

A: If you have mild or asymptomatic Covid-19, although the recommendation is to work from home or take sick leave, you can still go in.

However, the health authorities recommend that you wear a mask, avoid contact with vulnerable people and avoid enclosed spaces with little ventilation.

Q: Is it necessary to get officially tested?

A: No, it’s not necessary to get a PCR or antigen done at your local health centre or at a private clinic any more. An antigen test bought from a pharmacy and performed at home will suffice.

Only those with serious symptoms and high-risk groups should get tested now. Although you it’s not necessary anymore to confirm your infection with a test, it’s still useful to test yourself at home so you can avoid contact with others if it’s positive and know when you can get back to life as normal.

Q: Do I have to tell my doctor if I have or have recently had Covid?

A: No, it’s not necessary for everyone to call their doctor if they have Covid, because not all cases are being counted by authorities anymore.

You may, however, still need to call your doctor if you need to sick leave from work. Those in Catalonia will be given an automatic five-day sick leave if they have Covid symptoms, even if they don’t take a test.  

If you are over the age of 60, are immunosuppressed or are in a high risk group, it’s still a good idea to tell your doctor if you test positive.

Q: What do I do if I have come into close contact with someone who has Covid-19?

A: If you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, it’s not necessary for you to take a test or to self-isolate.

The health authorities do recommend that you take precautions though, such as limiting social interactions, wearing a mask and avoid vulnerable people.

Remember that the days before you test positive, but after you have been exposed to the virus are when you are the most contagious. 

Q: What if I get Covid while on holiday in Spain?

A: If you have a mild or asymptomatic case of Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain, you don’t have to quarantine and you don’t have to inform the local health authorities, unless you are in a vulnerable category.

Like above, Spain’s Health Ministry only recommends that you stay at home and rest, that if you do have to go out you wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and that you keep social contact to a minimum for a week.

Different countries have different rules so you may not be able to travel home if you have Covid and may have to wait until you test negative.

READ MORE: What tourists should do if they get Covid while on holiday in Spain?