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COVID-19 RULES

Spain to make face masks compulsory outdoors again

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday announced that face masks will be compulsory in Spain in all outdoor situations once again, even when a distance of 1.5 metres from other people can be maintained.

People wearing face masks walk in Burgos, northern Spain,
People wearing face masks walk in Burgos, northern Spain. This will be the second time that face masks are made compulsory at all times outdoors in Spain during the pandemic. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Initial reports from the Conference of Presidents being held between Sánchez and the country’s 17 regional leaders suggest that the outdoor face mask requirement is the standout Covid-19 restriction to be implemented in Spain this Christmas.

The announcement comes as Spain recorded its highest daily case numbers since the pandemic began, the fortnightly infection rate continues rising in the “extreme” risk level and Omicron cases represent at least 47 percent of new infections.

The Spanish cabinet is set to approve a decree law on Thursday December 23rd for the measure to come into force. When the rule will be applicable is yet to be confirmed.

Wearing a face mask outdoors when a safe distance of 1.5 metres from others can be kept hasn’t been compulsory since June 26th 2021.

But faced with rising infections among a largely vaccinated population, regional leaders in the Basque Country, Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha and the Valencia region had suggested that making face masks mandatory at all times during the busy Christmas period could help to reduce case numbers.

Face masks were first made compulsory in public in Spain in May 2020 as the country emerged from its first full lockdown.

In March 2021, the Spanish government tightened the rules to require people to wear masks in almost all indoor and outdoor settings even if people kept to the safety distance, unless the activity was incompatible with mask wearing ie. eating, drinking, sunbathing, running etc

The backlash it caused after locals and tourists realised this would mean they would have to wear a mask while sunbathing or at the pool led Spanish authorities to tweak the legislation to allow some exceptions. 

For the past six months, many Spaniards have continued wearing face masks in outdoor public spaces as an extra precaution, with far less reluctance among the Spanish population than in other European countries.

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain to scrap Covid temperature and visual checks 

From October 20th, non-EU travellers arriving in Spain will no longer undergo health checks by airport officials to assess if they have Covid-19, sources from Spanish airport manager Aena are quoted as saying. 

TRAVEL: Spain to scrap Covid temperature and visual checks 

Spanish health authorities are reportedly planning to remove another Covid-19 travel restriction: temperature and visual checks on international passengers arriving in Spain. 

This has been reported by Catalan newspaper El Periódico, although it has not yet been officially confirmed by the country’s Health Ministry. 

Since the start of the pandemic, passengers arriving by air or sea in Spain have had their temperature checked by airport authorities in order to assess if they had a high temperature, with either thermal cameras at security gates or infrared thermometers pointed at their foreheads.

Visual evaluations to see if passengers display clear signs of being infected with Covid-19 have also been carried out.

In theory, if the screening suggests passengers could well have Covid-19, they are required to carry out a Covid-19 test at the airport before being allowed to leave.

It is also possible that passengers are asked what non-EU country they were travelling from for officials to cross-check this against Spain’s list of high-risk countries.

It’s worth noting that as the pandemic has evolved, these tests at Spanish airports have become far less rigorous than they were initially.

Passengers arriving from another EU country have for some time now not gone through such screening, but those arriving from outside of the bloc technically are still subject to checks, even though there are no third countries on Spain’s Covid high-risk list anymore.

Additionally, it is no longer mandatory to self-isolate if you test positive for the coronavirus in Spain, even though limiting social interactions is advised.

According to Catalonia’s El Periódico, sources from Spain’s public airport manager Aena have confirmed that these health controls at airports and seaports across Spain will continue until Thursday October 20th 2022, when they will officially end.  

Spain’s Health Ministry did recently confirm that from September 20th it would stop asking international travellers to complete the Spth health control form to present upon arrival in Spain, but the state bulletin (BOE) did not put in writing the end of temperature and visual checks at airports and seaports. 

Some Spanish newspapers have reported that such checks also ended on September 20th, but this is not correct as the BOE refers to the cancellation of anex 8 and 9, which relate to the Spth health control form and cruiseship travel restrictions. 

As of September 27th 2022, the Aena website states: “It is no longer necessary to complete the health screening form to travel to Spain or to present the QR code at the destination airport. Passengers on flights from countries outside the European Union or the Schengen Area may be subjected to a health check that includes a visual check of their physical condition and temperature taking with non-contact thermometers or thermographic cameras.”

If the end of temperature and visual checks is confirmed by Spanish health authorities, the only two remaining Covid travel restrictions in Spain will be mask wearing on planes and other means of transport as well as proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from non-EU tourist arrivals.

READ MORE: Do you still need Covid-19 documents to travel to Spain?

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