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What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?

What do national and international tourists have to do if they are exposed to a positive case or develop Covid symptoms while on holiday in Spain? Do the rules change for close contacts? 

What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?
Some Spanish regions offer Covid insurance to tourists. (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP)

Do tourists and visitors in Spain have to quarantine if they have Covid-19 symptoms?

Not anymore, in the majority of cases. 

Since March 28th 2022, people in Spain who test positive for Covid-19 but are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms are no longer required to quarantine for seven days as was previously the case. 

Spain’s Health Ministry now recommends (rather than require) that people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms stay at home and rest, that if they go out they wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and that they keep social contact to a minimum for a week.

But they no longer have to self-isolate at their accommodation or at designated quarantine hotels as was previously the case during the pandemic in Spain. 

National tourists on holiday in another region of Spain are no longer required to head back home if they have Covid-19 either. 

However, seven-day quarantines remain mandatory for serious cases and those classified as part of the high-risk or vulnerable population, which includes those over 60 years of age, immunosuppressed people and pregnant women. 

Close contacts of positive cases don’t have to self-isolate either but should follow the same new recommendations of avoiding social contacts and sticking to mask wearing that apply to positive cases.

Do tourists have to get tested if they have Covid-19 symptoms and contact Spanish health authorities if they test positive?

Not necessarily. Spanish health authorities have also decided that it’s no longer necessary for people with mild symptoms that could be related to Covid-19 to get tested to confirm their infection.

Previously visitors had to contact the health authorities of the region where they were staying if they tested positive for Covid-19 via an antigen or PCR test, but in late March Spain’s Health Ministry decided it would stop counting each and every Covid case. 

Again, tourists in the high-risk category (those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, over-60s, immunosuppressed people and pregnant women) will still have to get tested and contact Spanish health authorities if they test positive. 

The Covid-19 helplines in Spain’s different regions.

Can tourists fly back if they suspect they have Covid-19 or test positive?

No. All international airlines flying to and from Spain will still not let passengers who have tested positive for Covid-19 board planes. 

Even though in many cases vaccinated or recovered tourists will not be asked to provide proof of a Covid test before boarding their flights (depending on the rules of the country to which they’re flying to), there are still checks being carried out at airports that could mean those suspected of having Covid-19 are not allowed to board without first getting tested.

This means that many foreign visitors will have to extend their visit in Spain at their own cost until they are no longer infected with Covid-19. 

Some Spanish regions factored in early on in the pandemic how the uncertainty of travel during Covid times dissuades many tourists from venturing abroad and therefore decided to offer free Covid health insurance to visitors.

According to Spain’s Travel Safe website, the Spanish regions still offering this insurance are Andalusia, Murcia, the Balearic Islands and Galicia. 

“The services normally covered include medical and hospitalisation expenses, transportation and repatriation costs and money spent during prolonged stays and quarantine. In certain cases, the coverage extends to the relatives of the ill person,” reads the government website.

If you’re an EU citizen, make sure to bring your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). Non-EU tourists should make sure they take out comprehensive travel insurance that covers Covid-19. 

Keep in mind that if you have Covid-19 symptoms when you’re due to fly to Spain, you should get tested to confirm if you’re infected and not board your flight if you test positive, as Spain’s health control form requires you to sign an affidavit confirming you don’t have Covid symptoms and swear to self-isolate in Spain if you do.

In terms of when tourists can fly back after becoming infected with Covid-19 in Spain, the Spanish government no longer states it has a mandatory seven-day wait and four days of close monitoring but has not clarified how long foreign tourists should wait before boarding their flights back home.

This may also be determined by the Covid travel rules in the country in which you live, which may ask you to confirm that you are no longer positive for Covid-19 before flying. 

According to the United States’ CDC, “available data suggest that patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset”.

READ ALSO: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

Member comments

  1. Hello. I have a question regarding private car travel to other EU countries from my country of residence, Italy. I am an American with residence in Italy. I’d like to travel by my own personal car to especially France, but Spain and other EU countries are also of interest. If i were to test positive for covid while away in France, for instance, can I use my private vehicle to drive home to Italy to recover at home instead of staying in a hotel in France to quarantine? No one speaks of this scenario, and I would like to make travel plans. Many thanks for help.

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Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Spain on Saturday eased Covid entry rules for unvaccinated tourists from outside the European Union, in a boost for the key tourism sector ahead of the peak summer holidays.

Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Until now travellers from outside the bloc — including Spain’s main tourism market Britain — could only enter with proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

But as of Saturday visitors from outside of the EU will also be allowed to enter Spain with a negative Covid test result, the transport ministry said in a statement.

PCR tests must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain or an antigen test 24 hours prior to departure.

Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto said the “new phase of the pandemic” meant the country was able to relax the rules by equating non-EU travellers with those of the bloc.

“This is excellent news, much awaited by the tourism sector, which will make it easier for tourists outside of Europe to visit us during the high season,” she added in the statement.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from submitting any type of certificate.

With sunny beaches and a rich architectural heritage, Spain was the world’s second most visited country before the pandemic, with 83.5 million foreign visitors in 2019.

But international travel restrictions related to the pandemic brought Spain’s tourism sector to its knees in 2020 as it welcomed just 19 million tourists.

The figure rose to 31.1 million in 2021, far below the government forecast of 45 million arrivals.

READ ALSO: Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border