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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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EXPLAINED: Spain’s new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Americans and Britons are now allowed to go on holiday to Spain. Here are the requirements, documentation needed and other important information they should know before booking their flights to Spain. 

EXPLAINED: Spain's new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

What’s the latest?

Spain has opened up to unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists for the first time in more than two years.

Previously it was not possible for third-country nationals to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as a holiday, seeing family or spending time in a second home in Spain unless they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (plus booster after 9 months) or recovered from the illness in the past six months. 

From May 21st 2022, unvaccinated tourists and other visitors from outside of the EU can travel to Spain if they show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the Spanish government confirmed on Saturday. These are the same rules that apply to EU nationals and residents.

Spain’s testing requirements for non-EU/Schengen tourists apply to those aged 12 and older, children under that age are exempt from having to prove testing, vaccination or recovery.

What kind of Covid test do I need to get done to travel to Spain?

In scientific terms, Spain wants a diagnostic test that’s either a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test, such as an RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or a RAT (rapid antigen test).

In layman’s terms, that’s either a PCR test, which must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain, or an antigen test, 24 hours prior to departure.

Covid tests accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals, therefore self-tests are not valid. 

What do I need to show to travel to Spain if I’m unvaccinated?

You need to show an official certificate or supporting document which shows the negative result of your Covid test. Your country may have a system in place that allows you to upload your negative result to an app. 

The document must be the original, in Spanish, English, French or German, and may be shown in paper or electronic format. If you can’t get it in these languages, it must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish by an official body.

The document that accredits the diagnostic test has to include the date the sample was taken, identification and contact details of the centre performing the analysis, technique used and negative result.

Spanish authorities recognise the UK’s NHS Covid Pass and others that fulfil the above criteria. 

Do I need to fill out a health control form?

This depends. Currently, 40 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions. 

That means that people from these nations who have a vaccination, testing or recovery certificate issued by the competent authorities of their country do not need to fill in Spain’s Travel Health form.

The countries with EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalence are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay, The Vatican and Vietnam.You can also double-check here in case more countries are added.

If your non-EU country isn’t on the list then you have to fill in the SPTH form and upload your test certificate, which gives you a QR Code you’ll be asked for at the airport. 

READ MORE: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane?

Yes, you will most likely be required to wear a mask on the planes to and from Spain, although you don’t have to wear one inside Spanish airports anymore.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s mask rules for travel?

Is there any other travel rule I need to know about?

If you’re not an EU citizen or resident, then you should check if you require a Schengen visa to travel to Spain, as this will depend on your nationality.

Keep in mind that you will also have to abide by other Schengen rules, such as not being able to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain and other Schengen countries.

Does Spain still have domestic Covid-19 rules?

Spain has lifted the vast majority of its Covid-19 rules, so there are no longer curfews, forced closures, limits on the number of people per shop or restaurant or Covid pass requirements to gain entry to buildings. 

Masks are no longer required outdoors and there is no face covering mandate for the majority of indoor public settings, except for on public transport, in hospitals, pharmacies, other health clinics and care homes.

READ MORE: What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?

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