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LIFE IN SPAIN

NEW LAWS: What changes about life in Spain in February 2022

​​In Spain a new month brings changes to laws, travel rules, restrictions, events and other important matters that affect life. Here are the changes coming in February 2022 you need to be aware of.

what changes in spain in february 2022
Postponed carnivals, changes to Spain's travel rules, a potential rise in the minimum wage and the debate over the end of facemasks outdoors are all changes to expect in February. Photos: Gabriel Bouys, Pau Barrena/AFP, Christian Dubovan/Unsplash

Changes to travel rules and Covid certificates

Being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer be enough for many international travellers to visit Spain from February 1st 2022.

Spanish authorities have followed the EU’s recommendations to Member States and updated the country’s travel rules regarding Covid-19 health passes and required vaccinations, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant around the world spurring the changes.

The main change is that if you completed your initial Covid-19 vaccination more than 270 days ago (around 9 months), you will need to show you’ve had a Covid booster shot to be able to visit Spain. EU Digital Covid Certificates which are older than 9 months will cease to be valid for travel in Spain unless they show a booster shot.

This will affect many non-EU travellers who want to visit Spain, including American, British, Canadian, Australian and Russian tourists, among others, who were vaccinated more than 9 months ago but haven’t received their booster shot. 

However, EU citizens and any accompanying non-EU family members (even if the visit to Spain is for tourism), foreign residents of Spain, Spanish nationals and other categories are exempt from having to show proof of a booster shot to enter the Spanish territory, even if they were fully vaccinated more than 270 days ago. 

READ MORE: Do I need a Covid-19 booster shot to travel to Spain?

 

New low-cost Valencia-Madrid train

Avlo, the low-cost subsidiary of Spain’s public rail provider, will launch a new high-speed train route between Madrid and Valencia on February 21st, with tickets going for as little as €7.

The new service will leave from Valencia to Madrid at 9.28am, 4.15pm and 9.10 pm. The Madrid-Valencia routes will depart at 6.30am, 12.40pm and 6.40pm from the Spanish capital. 

According to Spanish website trenes.com, the average single ticket price of a Renfe Ave ticket between Madrid and Valencia is €45.

AVE trains take on average 1 hour and 38 minutes to complete the 302 kilometres that separate Madrid from Valencia.

READ MORE: Spain’s Avlo to launch new low-cost train between Madrid and Valencia

Public holidays in February 2022

As many of you probably know, Spain has quite a lot of public holidays and like most things here, they are different depending on where in the country you are. In February, there are no national holidays across Spain and regional holidays only in two places.

Andalusia: February 28th.

Canary Islands: February 2nd (Tenerife).

See a full rundown of dates for the whole year across the regions in the link right below.

READ MORE: The public holidays in your region of Spain in 2022

New antigen test rule

From February 1st, people travelling to Spain who need to take a Covid-19 test to enter the country will have to get tested within 24 hours before their arrival in the country rather than 48 hours if they choose an antigen test. 

This currently affects unvaccinated travellers from EU/EEA nations as well as Spanish residents and nationals who haven’t had any Covid-19 doses, and several third-country categories relating to essential travel. Unvaccinated travellers from the majority of non-EU/EEA countries cannot visit Spain.

READ MORE: Spain reduces validity of antigen tests for travellers from 48 to 24 hours 

UK driving license validity in Spain to end 

On December 29th 2021, Spanish authorities approved a third extension to the validity of UK licenses in Spain post-Brexit, this time for two more months until February 28th 2022. 

Will there finally be a deal between Spanish and UK authorities which allows all British residents in Spain to continue using their licences or to easily exchange for a Spanish one without having to sit their driving exam again in Spain? Or will there be another extension to the validity of UK licences before the end of February deadline? 

Driving licences: How does the situation for Britons in Spain compare to rest of Europe?

Regions to keep or scrap Covid health passes for daily affairs?

The regional governments that implemented the Covid health pass for domestic matters before Christmas as Spain’s sixth wave spiked now have to consider whether to keep the measure. Cantabria, Catalonia and Asturias have so far decided to drop the rule (considering it ineffective in preventing infections) whereas the Valencia region, La Rioja and Andalusia all intend to keep for part of February or the entire month.

With Omicron infections still very high but now slowly dropping, the remaining regions will decide over the course of February how much longer they’ll require citizens to have to show their Covid certificate to enter bars, restaurants and other public spaces. 

February weather expected to be dry

According to predictions, February 2022 could be even drier than January, with a general lack of rainfall that will worsen drought conditions that some parts of Spain are suffering.

It is believed the dry weather is caused by an anticyclone in the northern mainland, which will mean January’s weather will continue into February with cold mornings and nights, big temperature swings between day and night, and a general lack of rain. 

The end of mandatory masks outside?

On December 23rd, the Spanish government quickly passed a Royal Decree to make masks mandatory outside again, with Health Minister Carolina Darias saying the measure would only be “temporary”.

Introduced partly in a bid to slow the speed of Omicron variant transmissions over the jovial, sociable Christmas period, according to Spanish law Royal Decrees must be debated within thirty days of their introduction, which left a few people confused about when exactly the measure would end. 

Thirty calendar days would have been January 24th, but the law requires thirty business days. The Spanish Congress of Deputies had confirmed to media outlets that the measure will be up for debate again on February 2nd.

Will Spanish housing law finally be approved?

It is expected that the Spanish government will press ahead and finally approve its long awaited housing law despite criticism from the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) which questioned its impact on regional powers and the impact on landlords and land owners, in particular on its proposed rental regulation mechanism to control prices.

The law will then have to pass Spain’s Congress, ​​but as the government coalition PSOE and Podemos don’t have the necessary working majority to pass it without changes or challenges from opposition, it is expected the law will have to undergo some modifications.

What has been approved as part of Spain’s new housing legislation is the €250/month rental allowance for under-35s.

Key elections in Castilla y León

If you watch Spanish news, you may have noticed swathes of politicians descending on the Castilla y León region cosplaying as rural Spaniards in recent weeks.

Whether it be far-right leader Santiago Abascal in his wellies, or PP boss Pablo Casado trying his best to fit in with farm-hands, in Spain regional elections and politics can have a ripple effect on the national picture and for the latter, and his PP party, elections in Castilla y León are the chance to relaunch the party ahead of a general election sometime in 2023.

After taking a slight dip in polling numbers in recent months, Casado and PP are keen to project a united front and bolster his reputation as Spain approaches the last quarter of its electoral cycle.

A key element of this rebrand has been Casado’s reported truce with Madrid regional leader Isabel Ayuso, who has gained support among the PP top brass after her victory in regional elections and rumours she was positioning herself for a leadership bid. Castilla y León is one of several regional elections in 2022 that Casado and PP hope to capitalise on and build political momentum before heading into a general election the following year.

Possible rise in minimum wage

Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz has announced that she will gather together major trade unions and business leaders to discuss a possible rise in Spain’s minimum wage in early February. It is believed that unions will ask for the minimum income to be increased to 1000 a month, up from 965, and it is believed Díaz sees little reason not to agree.

New UK-Spain travel rules

February 11th will mark the end of testing requirements for fully vaccinated UK-bound travellers, including the post-arrival Day 2 tests that travellers from Spain had previously been forced to pay for.

Before that on February 1st, Spain will also change its travel rules. UK tourists heading to Spain who completed their initial Covid vaccination more than 270 days prior to travel to Spain, will have to show proof of having received a booster jab to be allowed to enter the country.

There are some exemptions, which you can find out about here

READ MORE: What are the new rules for travel between Spain and the UK in February

Postponed carnivals

Although Spain does seem to be – toca madera – nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, some regions are still playing it safe with restrictions and limiting public events. As a result, some of the more famous February carnivals have been already cancelled and are expected to take place in June.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife: traditionally known as Winter Festivals, it is believed Tenerife’s biggest carnival will be moved to June in response to coronavirus contagions and the tightening of restrictions to prevent the spread of the omicrom variant.

Cádiz: The Cádiz Carnival is one of the most famous in Spain, declared both a Festival of International Tourist Interest and an Asset of Cultural Interest and a Treasure of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Spain. Unfortunately that doesn’t help it in a pandemic, and COVID-19 restrictions have also postponed the popular carnival to the summer. 

The number of COVID-19 cases has worsened significantly in recent months – in Cádiz but also across the Andalusia region – due to the Omicron variant, so it is believed that the carnival will eventually be held sometime between the 2nd and 12th of June. 

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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.




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