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Spain drops ‘fully vaccinated’ rule for teenage travellers – but too late for half-term holidays

‘Many thousands of families had no choice but to cancel their planned holidays’ – Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO Advantage Travel Partnership

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 11 February 2022 12:42 GMT
Spain to allow unvaccinated children to enter with PCR test

In one of the most poorly timed announcements in the entire coronavirus pandemic, Spain has reversed its draconian policy of demanding everyone aged 12 or over be double jabbed in order to enter the country from abroad.

The easing of the travel rules takes effect at midnight on Sunday, allowing anyone aged 12-17 to take a PCR test instead.

But it comes too late for tens of thousands of families who had hoped to take half-term holidays in the UK’s favourite nation for tourism.

The minister of the interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gomez, said in the official state bulletin, “In many countries it is difficult or impossible for people aged under 18 to obtain the vaccine.

“Consequently, it is considered appropriate to establish conditions specific to these people.”

He has modified an order so that travellers aged 12-17 can instead take a molecular Covid test – of which the PCR is the most common, though Lamp tests are also acceptable. It must be taken within 72 hours of arrival in Spain.

Spain’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said: “We are committed to making travel to Spain a safe and easy experience for our visitors, especially for families travelling with children. We hope that with these changes, many families will choose Spain to enjoy safe and memorable holidays together.”

Madrid’s hard-line attitude means that 12-year-olds and teenagers who had not been able to receive both Covid jabs – because they were too young, or had caught Covid and could not have the second jab – are excluded from travelling out this weekend.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive, Advantage Travel Partnership, said earlier this week that holidaymakers were switching away from Spain as consequence of the rules.

“Sales leaderboard for members last week is interesting,” she tweeted. “Notably with Canary Islands losing share week on week. When you impose ridiculous travel rules on unvaccinated British children and adults, that happens.”

She added after the announcement from Madrid: “It really is the worst timing ever given half term is upon us and many thousands of families had no choice but to cancel their planned holidays to Spain, choosing instead to opt for destinations that didn’t ban their children from entering.

“It’s positive however that Spain has seen sense but ultimately we need more countries to follow the UK lead and remove all onerous testing for travellers.”

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