Tourists travelling to Spain from Britain and Northern Ireland will now need to be fully vaccinated to enter the country from 00:00 on 1 December, it was announced this morning. Until now a negative test or having recovered from the virus was enough.
Due to the increased concern among health experts over the new Omicron variant of covid-19, which has been discovered in South Africa, European Union countries are bringing in new measures to try and stop the spread of the virus. As well as suspending flights from countries in southern Africa, travellers from countries outside the EU and the Schengen area are now required to be fully vaccinated. Since Brexit the UK now falls into that category and as such is subject to the restrictions.
News agency EFE reported this morning that “the Spanish Interior Ministry has modified the criteria for the temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and Schengen area countries for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis. The modification has been published today, Saturday, in the BOE (Boletin Oficial del Estado).”
What does this mean in real terms?
Previously, negative tests and proof of having recovered from coronavirus were enough to travel into Spain, or any other EU country, from outside the block, but these have been removed from the list of accepted documents for entry.
As the vaccine roll-out for five to 12-year-olds has not yet begun, although the European Medicines Agency has given it the green light, under-12s are not required to be vaccinated. However, they are also unable to enter Spain from the UK if their parents or guardians with whom they plan to travel have not been inoculated.
The news will come as a huge blow to anyone unvaccinated hoping to travel to Spain over the festive period to see friends and family. It will be particularly felt in the Valencia region which has the largest population of UK nationals anywhere in the EU, with some 70,000 registered here, as well as the thousands more who are unregistered or spend their time between the two countries.
This afternoon, the Reuters news agency confirmed that the new restriction applies only to tourists visiting Spain. They quoted a spokeswoman for Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism department who said: “This will affect British residents but not British people who are resident in Spain.”