Spain’s PM reluctant to require PCR tests from vaccinated EU travellers

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press as he arrives to attend an European Union Summit with all 27 EU leaders at The European Council Building in Brussels on December 16, 2021. - The lightning spread of Omicron in Europe and elsewhere has added a sense of urgency to an EU summit on December 16, 2021, with leaders struggling to present a united, bloc-wide approach. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / various sources / AFP)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press as he arrives to attend an European Union Summit with all 27 EU leaders at The European Council Building in Brussels on December 16, 2021. - The lightning spread of Omicron in Europe and elsewhere has added a sense of urgency to an EU summit on December 16, 2021, with leaders struggling to present a united, bloc-wide approach. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / various sources / AFP)
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez insisted on Friday that any decision regarding travel rules across the EU should be “coordinated” across Europe and that further restrictions “could risk breaking up the common framework”. 

The Spanish government doesn’t want to set its own country-specific restrictions which affect travel between the Iberian nation and the EU this Christmas.

That’s the conclusion drawn from Pedro Sánchez’s words in Brussels on Friday after a European Council meeting, when asked by journalists if he would introduce the requirement of a PCR for vaccinated EU travellers if the epidemiological situation continued to worsen. 

Sánchez said that “all decisions should be as coordinated as possible” since “the greatest risk could be breaking up the common framework” regarding the Schengen area and free movement. 

“That’s my will and any decision I take would be based on scientific criteria,” he added.

“Scientists have told us that the vaccines we have are efficient in the face of this new variant, with a booster dose.”

Spain’s Socialist leader didn’t explicitly say his country will not require PCR tests from vaccinated EU tourists but he certainly appeared convinced Spain wouldn’t be reaching any such decision on its own.

In the worst case scenario, if the European Commission were to recommend to all Member states that travel requirements such as PCRs were needed within the EU, Spain would likely follow suit.

But it won’t be following the example of Italy and Portugal, which have introduced their own tightened travel restrictions without EU recommendation.

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In Italy’s case, all travellers to the country from other EU nations must take a coronavirus test before departure and unvaccinated arrivals must quarantine for five days.

READ ALSO: Macron vows not to impose stricter entry rules to France from within EU

At the moment, Spain-bound travellers from the EU that have been fully vaccinated for more than 14 days can travel to Spain with the Covid health pass.

If you have not been vaccinated, whether you need to take a PCR or antigen test 48 hours prior will depend on which EU country you’re travelling from. If they’re coming from a “at risk” EU country, which all Member nations are currently classified as, they do require a Covid test.

 Showing proof of recovery within the last 180 days  is also an option.

Last week, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias is thought to have considered whether to require a negative PCR test from vaccinated EU travellers, but later explained that any decision would be taken in coordination with other Member states, similar to Pedro Sánchez’s comments. 

“The most important thing now is that we all get vaccinated, that we receive our booster doses and that those of us with children between five and 11 years of age are encouraged to get them vaccinated to protect them and others,” Sánchez concluded.

“We’re better prepared than a year ago to be able to face Christmas”, Sánchez added, recalling that now almost 90 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated against Covid, apart from young children which have just been added to the campaign.

“That doesn’t mean we have to lower our guard or keep our arms crossed”.

UPDATE: Will Spain bring back tougher Covid restrictions for Christmas?

Spain’s fortnightly infection keeps snowballing every day and now stands at 430 cases per 100,000 people. That’s twice as high as it was last Christmas.

Pressure on hospitals and ICU wards has reached high-risk levels in eight regions and the new Omicron variant is proliferating, representing 30 percent of new diagnosed cases in Madrid.

Covid-19 deaths however are not as high as they were a year ago, as in the case of Catalonia, where there has been a third of the coronavirus fatalities compared to last December.

A further 48 people passed away from Covid on Thursday December 16th, taking Spain’s total death toll to 88,667.


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