Spain Adopts New EU Initiative Easing COVID-19 Travel Protocols

Photo courtesy of European Union (Photographer: Christophe Licoppe)

Fully vaccinated tourists visiting Murcia can now take advantage of amended European Union travel measures aimed at facilitating safe free movement as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

From today (1 February), Spain has formally adopted an EU Council recommendation for a coordinated approach to travel protocols. The recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, however, so the authorities of member states remain responsible for implementing its content and some other countries remain reticent.

The new EU Digital COVID Certificate recommendation also enters into force on the same day that the EU has formally amended its certification regulation, establishing an acceptance period of 270 days for vaccination certificates.

According to a news release from the EU, “This recommendation is in response to the significant increase in vaccine uptake and the rapid roll-out of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

“Under the new recommendation, COVID-19 measures should be applied taking into account the person’s health status rather than the epidemiological situation at regional level, with the exception of areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels. This means that a traveller’s EU Digital COVID Certificate should be the key determinant. A person-based approach will substantially simplify the applicable rules and will provide additional clarity and predictability to travellers.”

So what exactly is this “person-based approach”?

Essentially it means that travellers visiting countries adopting the new rule (such as Spain), and in possession of a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate, “should not be subject to additional restrictions to free movement”.

A valid EU digital COVID certificate includes:

A vaccination certificate for a vaccine approved at European level if at least 14 days and no more than 270 days have passed since the last dose of the primary vaccination series or if the person has received a booster dose. Member states could also accept vaccination certificates for vaccines approved by national authorities or the WHO.
A negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours before travel or a negative rapid antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours before travel.
A certificate of recovery indicating that no more than 180 days have passed since the date of the first positive test result.

The EU notes that people who are not in possession of an EU Digital COVID Certificate might be required to undergo a test prior to or no later than 24 hours after arrival. “Travellers with an essential function or need, cross-border commuters and children under 12 should be exempt from this requirement.”

For UK travellers, the new measures are regularly updated on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s GOV.UK travel advice website.

The website currently advises:

“If you’re fully vaccinated and travelling from the UK, you can enter Spain without needing to test or quarantine, regardless of your reason for travel. Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements…

“From 1 February onwards, at least 14 days must have passed since being fully vaccinated (with both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) before arrival in Spain. Your date(s) of vaccination must be specified and your final dose must have been administered within 270 days prior to travel to Spain. If you completed your vaccination (with both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) more than 270 days prior to travel to Spain, you must be able to show proof of having received a booster jab.

“Only vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency or by the World Health Organisation are accepted. Children under the age of 12 years old do not need to show proof of being fully vaccinated on entry to Spain.”

In other good news for returning UK travellers, last month the British government announced that, from 11 February, all testing requirements will be removed for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals

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