CORONAVIRUS

Spain to demand negative PCR test at land border with France

Authorities are also extending restrictions on third-country travel, but lifting a temporary ban on access to the Schengen space via Gibraltar

Road travel from France will undergo border checks starting on Tuesday.
Road travel from France will undergo border checks starting on Tuesday.EFE

With coronavirus infections creeping up again and fear that a fourth wave could take hold right around the Easter holidays, Spain is stepping up its restrictions on travel.

Authorities on Saturday announced that travelers crossing into Spain through the land border with France and who are coming from French risk zones will from now on have to show a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. A TMA test, as well as other diagnostic tests based on “equivalent molecular techniques” will be accepted, but at-home tests will not.

It is an urgent and necessary measure, especially in light of the epidemiological situation as well as the transmission and impact of the variants
Official State Gazette

Until now, only passengers arriving by sea or air were being asked for these health tests, with land crossings – either by road or railway – exempted from this obligation. The measure will go into effect on Tuesday.

“It is an urgent and necessary measure, especially in light of the epidemiological situation as well as the transmission and impact of the variants,” reads the decision, published on Saturday in the Official State Gazette (BOE). “All available means must be used to ensure that all persons arriving in Spain from France will have a SARS-CoV-2 active infection diagnosis test with a negative result, regardless of the manner in which they access [Spain].”

The tests will be required of anyone six years of age and over, although exceptions are being made for transportation professionals on duty, cross-border workers and border residents who may move within a 30-kilometer radius of their place of residence.

To determine what constitutes a risk zone, authorities will rely on data provided by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which uses a color code based on a combination of health indicators. Risk zones are those colored “dark red, red, orange or grey,” according to the BOE.

The French Foreign Ministry notes on its website that “a financial penalty is expected for those without a negative PCR test upon arrival. The document showing the result of the PCR test must be written in Spanish, French, German or English.”

France has been requesting a negative PCR test from all travelers from the age of 11 since January 31, regardless of whether they enter French territory by land, sea or air.

Third-country travel and Gibraltar

On Monday, Spain also extended a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and associated members of the Schengen space. In another decision published in the BOE, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that these restrictions are being extended to April 30.

Also on Monday, Spain decided to lift a temporary restriction on access to the Schengen space through the Gibraltar land border check, effective at 6pm on March 30. This ties in with the Spanish government’s decision, made on March 23, to lift a ban on travel to Spain from the United Kingdom over concerns about a new coronavirus strain first detected in that country.

English version by Susana Urra.

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