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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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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.

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