British holidaymakers without Covid-19 vaccination certificates will be able to enter Spain “within days”, the country’s Tourism Minister has said.
Non-jabbed Brits have been unable to travel to Spain despite the easing of most other health restrictions, including the obligatory wearing of face masks in public in virtually all indoor public spaces.
It was thought the ban on non-vaccinated adult tourists from the UK would remain in place until at least June 15 following a new extension but, on Thursday Spain’s Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto made the unexpected announcement of an imminent change to the rules.
She said in a radio interview: “It’s going to be a matter of days before we eliminate a restriction that could be discouraging tourists from outside the European Union from visiting us. “We are going to stop demanding the Covid-19 certificate and allow people to enter with a negative Covid-19 test.”
Confirming a negative test would be the only entry requirement once the planned change took effect, she added: “The world sees us as a a safe destination and 92 per cent of the Spanish population is vaccinated.
“Tourism is recovering here at rates that would have been difficult to imagine in January. Today that recovery is a reality. Tourism is the lever for economic growth this year.”
It was not immediately clear if the changes would be introduced before June 15, although Mrs Reyes Maroto’s mention of days signals they could take effect as early as next week after confirmation in an official state bulletin.
The key change to entry rules is expected to lead to a surge of last-minute bookings by Brits who were resigned to missing out on a Spanish summer holiday because of their vaccination status.
Children were exempted from the vaccination ban but it applied to all adult holidaymakers coming from the UK, although they could enter by showing a Covid-19 recovery certificate.
The mandatory use of face masks in Spain in public indoors was lifted last month following the ending of other Covid-19 restrictions including limits on business opening hours.
Brits have been flocking back to the holiday destination this year in numbers which have given hoteliers hope of a swift return to the pre-pandemic situation.
In March 826,000 UK visitors travelled to Spain, taking the number entering the country in the first three months of the year to 1.76 million.