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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

Spain’s Andalusia and Valencia regions extend Covid health pass requirement

The Spanish regions of Andalusia and Valencia are extending the Covid-19 passport requirement for entry into some public venues until at least January 31st, their regional governments have announced.

Covid health pass bar spain
Many of the Covid health pass requirements in Spain's regions are due to expire, but will they follow the Valencia region and Andalusia's example and extend its use? Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

The regions of Andalusia and Valencia are extending the Covid-19 passport requirement to gain access to the inside of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, celebrations, large events, hospitals and care homes for at least another two weeks.

Providing the Covid-19 vaccination certificate or a negative test – PCR within 72 hours or antigen within 48 – will continue to be required for entry into hospitality and nightlife establishments as well as for visits to hospitals and nursing homes.

READ ALSO: How to get Spain’s Covid health pass for daily affairs in your region

Valencia region

The Generalitat – Valencia’s regional government – will maintain the Covid-19 passport mandate until at least the end of the month, and comes as part of broader moves to combat Spain’s so-called sixth wave of the pandemic which includes the the mandatory use of the mask (even outdoors when the social distancing cannot be observed) and the limit of ten people at tables inside bars and restaurants.

As to whether the regional government will further extend the requirement at the end of the month, it would need approval by the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community (TSJCV), which has, up until now, always backed the Generalitat and approved restrictions. 

Judging by case numbers, a further extension is plausible.

This week the Valencian Community broke its record for daily coronavirus infections with 16,611 positives. However, it is worth noting that both the number of hospitalisations and deaths have fallen dramatically thanks to Spain’s high vaccine uptake. 

Andalusia

In Andalusia the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia (TSJA) is also expected to ratify the extension to the end of the month.

The regional government there – La Junta – believe that although vaccination rates are high, like they are across the rest of Spain, the increase in cases during the sixth wave – particularly of the new, highly infectious Omicron strain, of which cases numbers have accelerated exponentially across the region in the last three weeks – has put all of Andalusia’s health districts at the ‘very high’ risk level. 

Therefore the extension to vaccination pass requirements for entry into hospitality and care homes is, according to La Junta, ‘necessary, suitable and proportionate’ and in line with the developing epidemiological situation.

Valencia and Andalusia are not alone, however. Regions across the rest of Spain are also facing an uptick in cases and considering their measures, with extensions expected: in the Balearic Islands, the Covid passport is required at nursing homes, nightlife venues, restaurants, and bars with a capacity of over 50 people. This will remain in effect until 24 January. 

MAP: Which regions in Spain still require a Covid pass for daily affairs?

How about in Spain’s other regions?

In Catalonia the Covid pass is required to access bars and restaurants but not on terraces, gyms, large events in enclosed spaces and nursing homes. Many nightlife venues are currently closed, but when they reopen Covid passes will most likely be required. As things currently stand, the use of health passes are mandated across the region until January 20th, but an extension is likely.

In Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, and La Rioja, however, the regional governments do not believe it is necessary for Covid passes or other restrictions yet. In Castilla y León, a ruling for use of Covid passes at hotels and hospitals is pending. 

Madrid has not mandated any vaccination restrictions or limitations on capacity, but face masks are required in all high-contact areas including nightclubs and public transport. 

Murcia does not require a Covid pass at bars and restaurants with capacity limits, but nightlife venues that use vaccine certificates may operate at full capacity. 

In Aragón, the passport is used at nightlife venues and large-scale public events. The regional court has received no complaints or protests from the hospitality sector until now, so the requirement is expected to continue and be extended.

In Asturias the regional court has not ruled on Covid passes but has also not denied the possibility of implementing them in the future. 

Barring a last minute change, Covid-19 vaccination passes will no longer be required in the Canary Island from January 15th.

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COVID-19 RULES

What are the penalties in Spain for having a fake Covid-19 certificate?

As the EU Digital Covid Certificate and other forms of proof of Covid-19 status are likely to be in use in Spain for all of 2022, we take a look at the fines and prison sentences that Spanish authorities can hand out to those with forged documents.

What are the penalties in Spain for having a fake Covid-19 certificate?

The Covid-19 pass or certificate has been divisive since it was introduced in 2021, with some seeing it as the most straightforward tool to find out one’s vaccination, testing or recovery status, and others considering it discriminatory and ineffective. 

Whatever your opinion of it, an official Covid-19 certificate – which usually includes a QR Code – will continue being required for travel to and from Spain in 2022. In fact, the European Commission has recently proposed that EU Covid Digital Certificates should be in use until at least June 30th 2023. 

The requirement of a Covid pass for domestic affairs in Spain such as going into a restaurant or a museum is decided by local governments, and although more and more regions are getting rid of its usage, it may not be completely scrapped for domestic matters altogether. 

So what happens if you are caught in possession of a fake Covid-19 certificate in Spain?

According to Article 392 of Spain’s Penal Code, forging official documents can result in prison sentences of between six months and three years. In some cases, sentences under two years don’t result in actual jail time, but not always.  

Crucially, Spanish law will treat the person who forged the document equally to the person who commissioned it or used it, resulting in the same punishment. 

Being caught in possession of a forged Covid-19 pass can also carry fines that vary depending on the person’s available savings and the length of the penalty, making it hard to give exact amounts. 

It can start from €6 a day, which is multiplied by the number of days of the financial sentence, which is usually from six to twelve months. Therefore the minimum fine could be around €1,095.

Forging the result of Covid-19 on a medical certificate carries different penalties as it does not constitute the forgery of an official state document but rather a privately issued one, and is therefore regulated under Article 399 of Spain’s Criminal Code. 

A potential prison sentence wouldn’t be possible in this case but a substantial fine similar to that for falsifying Covid-19 certificates could apply.

In both cases, regional high courts and governments may apply their own regional legislation, which can be more or less punitive, especially in financial terms. 

Spanish police have recently been carrying out arrests of criminal gangs that were selling fake Covid passports online for as much as €200 or €300. 

There are no recently reported cases of foreign tourists being arrested or fined in Spain for arriving with a fake Covid-19 certificate or test, but failing to meet Spain’s entry requirements can result in a minimum fine of €3,000.

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