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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

Spain’s Andalusia and Valencia regions set to extend Covid health pass rule for daily affairs

Valencian authorities on Thursday announced they will extend the requirement of the Covid health pass to access indoor public spaces for another month, while the Andalusian government have requested local judges keep the measure as well, bucking the trend of other Spanish regions that are scrapping the rule. 

Covid health pass Spain
Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

Residents and tourists staying in Alicante or other parts of the Costa Blanca or the Valencia region will have to continue showing a Covid certificate for domestic matters until February 28th.

That means that people in the region of 5 million inhabitants will need to show a Covid certificate with a QR Code that shows Covid vaccination, testing or recovery in order to gain access to the inside of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, celebrations, large events, hospitals and care homes. 

Valencian regional president Ximo Puig announced on Thursday that his government had received judicial approval to keep the measure in place, arguing that it does help to prevent Covid infections in indoor spaces. 

Whether the Covid health pass is effective in preventing the spread of the Omicron variant has been called into question by health experts. Authorities first in Cantabria and on Wednesday in Catalonia have decided to scrap the measure after studies found it to be ineffective in reducing case numbers. 

The other Spanish regions that implemented the Covid passport rule now have to consider whether to request an extension or not. The government of the Balearics Islands – which includes Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera – announced last Friday that they had received court approval to keep requesting the Covid health pass to enter hospitality venues for an extra week until Friday January 28th.

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

What the Covid health pass may have helped to achieve in the Valencian Community is the vaccination of 132,000 people with their first vaccine dose, a spike that’s occurred since the health pass rule was implemented.  

In the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, authorities have also requested their regional high court extend the Covid health pass rule for daily affairs for another 15 days until mid-February (*UPDATE: On Saturday January 29th approved this extension until February 15th). 

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

Around 90 percent of the region’s population over the age of five has been fully vaccinated, so an extension would potentially affect one in ten people in the region of 8.4 million inhabitants.

Andalusia and the Valencia region already received approval from local judges to extend the Covid health pass measure on another occasion earlier in January.

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

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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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