Spain has become the latest European country to ease travel restrictions for foreigners in the lead up to the February half term.

While travellers aged 12 or over are still required to be fully vaccinated, similar restrictions applied to under 12s have now been scrapped. Boosters remain necessary for those who have waited over 270 days, around nine months, since their second jab.

Announcement comes too late for many

The news will likely arrive too late for the thousands of families forced to cancel their trips, and the timing is expected to frustrate would-be travellers as well as Spanish business owners in equal measure.

Spanish Tourism Minister, Fernando Valdéz, underlined the importance of UK tourism, calling it Spain’s “main market” – “we’ve always been very keen on easing the restrictions between both countries.”

Spain’s “main market” is UK

The Canary Islands was one Spanish region that had been particularly vocal about the potential devastation caused if restrictions were not eased sooner. President of the Tenerife Hoteliers Association, Jorge Marichal, stressed that this time of year is “one of the most important” for local businesses.

British Airways a320 spain travel restrictions
British holidaymakers are a crucial market in Spain | © Miguel Ángel Sanz / Unsplash

For families with children over 12, the timings at which vaccinations were first offered to 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK made it impossible for many to meet the criteria set out by the Spanish government.

Earlier easing in restrictions by the UK government means that fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to test upon returning to the country. Those not qualifying as fully vaccinated will be required to undertake pre-departure and post-arrival testing, with the dreaded self-isolating now scrapped also.

Europe opening up?

With France’s Minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, stating that as soon as this week COVID testing for fully vaccinated travellers may be dropped throughout the EU, these recent announcements may indicate a slow but steady return to pre-pandemic travel freedoms.

Are travel restrictions in Europe likely to continue easing? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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