Progressive reopening of the entry of travellers from the European Union, Schengen Area and other countries

Within the framework of the State of Alarm in which the Spanish State was involved, all of this derived from the health crisis situation caused by COVID-19, the Spanish Government issued Order INT/239/2020, of 16 March, re-establishing of internal border controls and, subsequently, Order INT/270/2020, of 21 March, establishing criteria for the application of a temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and associated Schengen countries for reasons of public order and public health reasons. Consequently, during the State of Alarm period, only (i) Spanish citizens, (ii) those who could prove that Spain was their usual country of residence, (iii) cross-border workers, (iv) health or elderly care professionals going to carry out their work activity or (v) those who could prove force majeure or a situation of necessity were allowed to enter Spanish territory. Likewise, Order SND/403/2020, of 11 May, established the obligation for travellers from foreign countries to respect quarantine measures.

After the end of the State of Alarm in Spain, on 21 June, the Community borders and the Schengen Area were opened, allowing the entry of travellers from these countries, including the British who, although not part of the Schengen Area and in the process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU), are still holders of full rights and obligations as far as the EU is concerned. Portugal is an exception since, following an agreement between the two countries, a decision was taken to delay the entry of its residents until 1 July. Likewise, the obligation to respect quarantine measures for those travelling to Spain from EU countries (except Portugal) and the Schengen area has been lifted.

In order to guarantee more safety, Foreign Health carries out a triple check on travellers upon arrival. If they do not pass any one of them, they must undergo a medical examination at the airport itself to determine whether or not their health situation is suitable for them to move freely around the country. This triple check involves (i) a documentary check, during which a document provided by the airline must be filled in, specifying the addresses departed from and travelling to as well as health data; (ii) a temperature check, which cannot exceed 37.5 degrees; and finally, (iii) a visual check, during which the traveller’s apparent health condition is observed, all of this in order to avoid a possible case of COVID-19.

As of 1 July, the gradual reopening of international tourism, i.e. with third countries, is planned. However, in order to do so, Spain must comply with the list of countries that the EU prepares after carrying out different agreements with those states that it considers “safe” as far as COVID-19 is concerned, considering the epidemiological situation of each of them.

By Roser Servera, trainee lawyer at the International Desk of Bufete Buades.