Passengers arrive at Malaga Airport. File photograph. / SALVADOR SALAS

Spain tightens travel restrictions and British arrivals must now present a 'Covid passport'

From today, 1 December, travellers from the UK are obliged to show a vaccination certificate and will no longer be able to enter Spain with a negative test alone. Meanwhile the new regulations brought in by the British government require self-isolation on arrival in the UK until a negative PCR test comes through

JUAN SOTO / SUR

Spain has increased restrictions on travellers arriving from third countries as from today, 1 December, due to the appearance of the Omicron coronavirus variant worldwide.

As a result, passengers from the United Kingdom will only be able to enter Spain if they present a vaccination certificate, and not with a negative Covid-19 diagnostic test or proof of having overcome the disease, as was previously the case.

Until now, passengers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had an exemption that has now been abolished with the modification of Order INT / 657/2020, published last Saturday in the BOE Official State Gazette.

The new order details that, from these countries, only "people with a vaccination certificate that the [Spanish] Ministry of Health recognises for this purpose" may enter Spain. That is already the case with many countries of origin.

'Concerned'

The hotel sector on the Costa del Sol believes that the measure will affect tourism, although coming in low season it will be somewhat less noticeable.

The vice-president of hoteliers association Aehcos, Javier Hernández, said that on the Costa they are very concerned about the appearance of new variants such as the Omicron. "It seems that this is spreading and, although its incidence has been greatly magnified, it is also damaging to the sector," he said.

Christmas travel plans

Meanwhile, the travel plans of many British residents in Spain, who were planning to head back to the UK for Christmas festivities, have been thrown into turmoil, due to the recent change in regulations brought in by the Uk government this week.

England now requires fully vaccinated travellers to quarantine on arrival until receiving a negative day 2 Covid-19 PCR test. If the test result is negative, the quarantine can be ended. If the test result is positive, people must self-isolate for 10 full days. The day of the test is classed as day 0.

If travellers are not fully vaccinated they must take a Covid-19 test - in the three days before they travel - and book and pay for day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 PCR tests - to be taken after arrival in England.

Travellers must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 full days after arrival.

If travellers are in England for less than 10 days, they need to quarantine for the time they are there. They still need to book day 2 and day 8 PCR tests, but only need to take the tests if they are still in England on those days.

These changes will be reviewed in three weeks said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday.