MADRID – The Spanish government has decided to allow citizens of the European Union to enter the country without being subject to the COVID-19 test and quarantine requirements. This is as long as they are in possession of a vaccine card/digital green certificate from June.
Government sources confirmed this, according to various Spanish and international media, including schengenvisainfo.com. On Thursday, the European Commission announced that it will have the Digital Green Card or ‘vaccination passport‘ operational in June. The European agreement on this is generally seen in Spain as very positive for tourism.
40 million foreign tourists
So far, 15 million of the 47.3 million population (30%) has been vaccinated against Covid-19. Furthermore, Spanish authorities expect 40 million foreign visitors to travel to Spain this summer with this digital green card. That’s double the number that came last year when the pandemic first hit. However, it is still half the number that visited Spain in 2019.
Sources at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, led by Reyes Maroto, are “optimistic and with this certificate we are taking a giant step”. According to them, the system can also be rolled out to third countries with similar systems. Discussions about this are underway with agencies such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and with countries such as the United Kingdom, which is a very important market for the Spanish travel industry.
Green vaccine card better than current vacuum
According to El Pais, the tourism sector and large companies are still a bit unsure with regard to the new certificate. Although, it is recognised as better than the current vacuum.
Trade associations, however, indicate they are concerned about the built-in protection which says each EU state may take additional measures. Therefore individual countries can thus still impose mobility restrictions on international travellers. For example, quarantine obligations etc, which will have a limiting effect on the usefulness of the Green Digital Certificate.
Nevertheless, according to government sources, such exceptions are quite normal with this type of international agreement. Especially considering that the virus situation appears to be developing differently in each country. “If a new virus variant appears in a country, it is normal for other countries to do everything they can to prevent that variant from entering that country,” it says.
At the same time, the sources trust the common interest of all European countries is to restore mobility between countries. And to therefore minimise the use of the possibility to impose additional travel restrictions.
Uncertainties regarding the vaccine pass
There is also the question of how to deal with the uncertainty about the extent to which vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.
Additionally, there is also the argument of possible discrimination arising from this type of vaccine card. The danger that people who have been vaccinated have different rights than those who have not yet had a vaccine.
Professor of Public Health at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo, points out in this regard that everyone can get vaccinated, but not at the same time. “There is an element of fairness in the fact that the most vulnerable people, who have suffered much more during the pandemic, are vaccinated first and are also more likely to have access to certain benefits.”