Spain’s Cantabria scraps Covid health pass for being ‘ineffective’

Health authorities in the northern Spanish region are the first not to request an extension of the Covid health pass requirement for daily affairs in their region, considering the measure to have “not been effective” in helping to reduce Omicron infections during Spain’s sixth wave. 

Covid health pass cantabria spain
If there's a positive to draw is that 5,700 adults in the region have received their first Covid-19 vaccinations since the Covid health pass rule came into force. Photo: Cristina Vega RHOR / AFP

From Wednesday January 19th it will no longer be necessary for people in the northern region of Cantabria to show a Covid health pass to access hospitality and nightlife venues, cultural and sporting venues, and mass events.

Cantabrian health authorities reached the decision on Tuesday, justifying that “it no longer meets its objective” of preventing Covid-19 infections in indoor spaces where food and drink is consumed. 

“This was our objective with the Covid passport but with the Omicron variant infections cannot be avoided, so the measure isn’t effective,” Cantabrian health director Reinhard Wallmann told journalists during a press conference. 

The Covid health pass requirement has been in place for the last 40 days in Cantabria, where the fortnightly infection rate is now 4,286 cases per 100,000, higher than the national average and described as “sky-high” by Wallmann.

The rate of Covid hospitalisations and ICU admissions is also slightly above the national rate, which is in the “high risk” level across most of Spain. 

READ ALSO: Is the Covid health pass helping to reduce infections in Spain?

Cantabria is the first of the thirteen regions who received court approval to implement the Covid health pass rule to not request an extension, with all other regional governments having already extended it by several weeks or not yet announced what their next step will be. 

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

One positive Wallmann has pointed out is that since the Covid health pass was made mandatory for daily affairs, 5,700 adults in the region with a population of 581,000 inhabitants have had their first Covid-19 vaccines, instigated either by this measure or due to “fear” of contracting the virus during this sixth coronavirus wave. 

However, this “motivating effect” has now been completed and in recent weeks the number of initial adult vaccinations has been decreasing, so the region does not see “sufficient justification” to keep the Covid health pass any longer.

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Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border

Spanish authorities will no longer request proof of Covid-19 vaccination, testing or recovery from people who enter Spain by land from France.

Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border

The news was announced in Spain’s official BOE state bulletin on Wednesday, and will come into effect the following day, on Thursday May 19th 2022.

For the past 26 months, Spanish legislation has allowed border officials to be able to require a Covid health pass from anyone over the age of 12 entering Spain from France by car, train or on foot. 

In reality, Spain’s borders with France haven’t always been manned and Covid-19 health checks haven’t been a constant throughout the pandemic as in the case of air travel, for which Spain still has Covid-19 restrictions for travellers arriving from France. 

READ ALSO: When will Spain get rid of all its Covid-19 travel restrictions?

At times when infection rates were high, border checks on both sides were tightened, or as happened during the summer of 2021, there were tough health checks to enter France but not to enter Spain.

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, the decision to scrap health checks at Spain’s land border with France has been reached given the high levels of vaccination and immunisation achieved in both countries, which has led to a significant decrease in serious Covid-19 cases and deaths.

However, the French Embassy in Spain states that all unvaccinated arrivals in France, including those arriving by land, still have to be able to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test before crossing over into France from Spain, with some exceptions for cross-border workers and urgent matters.

According to Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are no Covid certificate requirements at the land border between Spain and Portugal