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

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
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.

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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