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Spain rules out EU’s proposed end of mask rules for flights

Spain’s Health Minister has said passengers on flights to and from Spain will have to continue wearing face masks inside planes, despite the EU’s recommendation that the rule be lifted on May 16th.

Spain rules out EU's proposed end of mask rules for flights
Despite the EU's recommendation, airlines can still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. (Photo by Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Wednesday clarified that mask rules for passengers on board planes and other means of public transport in Spain remain the same and are unlikely to change in the coming days. 

It follows the news hours earlier by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), who recommended Member States lift mandatory mask-wearing at airports and during flights from Monday May 16th.

Neighbouring France has followed the EU’s advice and swiftly announced it will end the obligatory face mask rule on all public transport (not just aircraft) on May 16th, but not Spain.

“Europe says that the use of the mask on flights must be aligned with national regulations and in Spain we only recently decided that in this context it remains mandatory,” Darias said in reference to the fact that Spain lifted the indoor mask rule for most indoor spaces on April 20th, but not on public transport.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask indoors in Spain?

“All the measures have to follow a process and therefore we have to advance with caution and proportionality as we have until now.”

Additionally, airlines can still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of their flights and the updated EU health safety measures still state that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of Covid-19.

Currently, masks remain mandatory on Ryanair flights (FFP2 for travel to and from Italy, Austria, and Germany), optional on some Easyjet flights and not mandatory but recommended on TUI or Jet2 flights from the UK, although clashing mask legislation between Spain and the UK will likely mean airlines decide to keep face coverings obligatory on flights to Spain.

Spanish flagship airline Iberia has said it will continue to follow the rules and recommendations of Spain’s Health Ministry and the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESA) has also pointed out that for now it is still necessary to be in compliance with national mask regulations.

Although passengers on most public transport in Spain (aeroplanes, trains, buses, taxis but not on ferries unless crowded) still have to wear a mask, a face covering is no longer mandatory inside airports, train stations, metro platforms or ports.

There are currently 14 European countries that require masks on public transport, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

EXPLAINED: What are Spain’s mask rules for travel?

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.

Exceptions

In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

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