Starting from November 23, all visitors entering Spain will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours. The new rules applies to air travelers arriving from countries with a high infection rate, declared the Health Ministry on Wednesday. Authorities may request travelers to see the result of the test, which must be an original document in paper or electronic format, written either in Spanish or in English.
With 1,417,709 cases and 40,105 deaths, Spain is one of Europe’s most affected countries. So far, the country had never asked its visitors to show a negative test on arrival. But now, the country will start using European Union criteria to define which countries are classified as high risk and thus require test certificates at airports. Spanish authorities will rely on the risk map offered by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC).
EU countries and Schengen countries above the incidence level of 150 cases per 100,000 people, or with more than 50 cases per 100,000 and with over 4% of all tests giving positive results, will be affected by the new rule. According to ECDC latest report, all EU and Schengen countries are currently at the highest risk level except for Norway, Finland and Greece, whose citizens would in theory not be affected by the move.
Health Minister Salvador Illa declared that the new rule will apply also to non-EU countries with more than 150 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. According to Illa, there will be no testing at Spain’s land borders. Thus, airlines will be asked to collaborate and check for travelers’ PCR tests before boarding. Illa also added that Spain is not planning to impose mandatory quarantine for foreign arrivals.
Isabel Diaz Ayuso, Madrid regional government leader, has long been fighting with the central government to make restrictions tougher. According to her, the test measure had been long overdue. “We’ve been fighting for it for six months. Too long. Now the Madrid region and the rest of Spain will be safer,” she said.
However, health ministry data show that imported Covid-19 cases are only a small fraction of the total: only around 4,200 cases have been detected in people arriving from abroad since early May. Spain’s infection tally is the second highest in Western Europe, only after France. Over the past 14 days, its infection rate stands at 514 cases per 100,000 people.
The Canaries archipelago, which has the lowest incidence rate in Spain, recently approved a similar testing measure that is set to go into effect on November 14. In the case of the Canaries Islands, the rule will affect both foreign and Spanish tourists, who will not be allowed into hotels or other accommodations without a negative test taken within the last 72 hours.