A growing number of regions in Spain are using the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate in an effort to curb the recent rise in coronavirus cases. This so-called Covid passport can be accessed in Spain via each region’s healthcare system, and certifies whether the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recently recovered from an infection, or has been tested for the virus.
The measure comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Spain. According to the latest Health Ministry report, released Wednesday, the 14-day incidence rate now stands at 217 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – a rise of 8.6 points since Tuesday. A total of 10,536 new infections were reported, while 28 Covid-19 deaths were added to the official toll, which now stands at 88,080. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,174,720 coronavirus cases have been detected. With infections on the rise, Spain’s hospitals are coming under greater pressure. According to the latest figures, there are currently 3,957 Covid-19 patients in hospital, 110 more than on Tuesday. This represents 3.1% of all available beds. In Spain’s intensive care units (ICUs), Covid-19 admissions jumped from 713 on Tuesday to 741, with the occupancy rate rising to 8.07% – above the 5% low-risk threshold outlined in the new traffic light system.
With coronavirus infections on an upward trend, many Spanish regions – which are in charge of their healthcare systems, the Covid-19 vaccination drive and coronavirus restrictions – have decided to introduce or widen the use of the Covid passport. Of Spain’s 17 regions, eight have now received court approval to make the certificate a condition of entry in certain spaces. They are Galicia, Aragón, the Balearic Islands, Murcia, Catalonia, Navarre, the Basque Country and the Valencia region. But the spaces where the Covid certificate is required vary from region to region.
Here is an overview of how the Covid passport is being applied across Spain, along with the latest 14-day cumulative incidence figure as at December 1.
Andalusia (14-day cumulative incidence: 105 cases per 100,000). The Covid certificate is not currently required in Andalusia. The regional government is planning to ask the Andalusia High Court for permission to introduce it in night venues. Regional authorities requested legal support for demanding the Covid pass from people visiting hospital patients and care home residents, but this was denied by the Andalusia High Court on Thursday. While the judges supported the measure, it was not approved because the regional government had not indicated the time period for which it would be in force.
Aragón (403). In Aragón, residents are required to present the Covid passport at nighttime venues, celebrations in hospitality establishments and large-scale events. The High Court of Aragón has called on the affected sectors to express their objections, but has not yet stopped the measure from being introduced.
Asturias (215). The regional government is not “for now” considering any measure that would imply making the Covid certificate a condition of entry, but it has not ruled out doing so in the future.
Balearic Islands (266). The Covid certificate is currently required at night venues and nursing homes. The regional High Court authorized this measure to be extended until the beginning of December. The Balearic Islands government later requested permission to introduce the certificate in bars, restaurants and night venues with an indoor capacity for over 50 people. This request was approved on Thursday and will be in force from Saturday, December 4 until January 24.
Basque Country (521). The regional government has received the green light from the Spanish Supreme Court to use the certificate in restaurants with capacity for more than 50 diners, as well as nightclubs, party venues, karaoke bars and other night venues. Last week, the Basque High Court ruled against this measure on the grounds that it was “unjustified.” The regional government appealed and the Supreme Court ruled in its favor on Tuesday.
Canary Islands (186). The Canary Islands government will ask the regional High Court for authorization to request proof of a negative PCR result or a Covid certificate in all venues that are currently subject to restrictions on capacity and opening hours. If ratified, the plan is for the measure to come into effect in December. Regional authorities have also reintroduced a requirement for all passengers arriving from another region of Spain to show proof of vaccination, a negative diagnostic test or evidence of recovery from Covid-19 in the previous six months. The measure will be in effect until January 15.
Cantabria (179). The Cantabria High Court refused the regional government’s request to introduce the Covid passport last summer. The premier of Cantabria, Miguel Ángel Revilla defended the measure and criticized the courts for not accepting its application. The region’s health department is expected to file a new request seeking permission to demand the Covid pass in hospitality venues.
Castilla-La Mancha (120). For now, the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha does not believe it is necessary to introduce the Covid certificate.
Castilla y León (275). The regional government is awaiting a legal report about the Covid passport’s use in hospitals and guesthouses, which would be the first place it would be required should the plan be implemented.
Catalonia (259). The Covid pass will go into effect this coming Friday after a one-week delay caused by a surge in certificate downloads that destabilized the regional health department’s website. Anyone 13 years old and over will have to show the pass to enter bars, restaurants, care homes and gyms. Until now, the certificate had only been required to access nightlife venues.
Extremadura (101). For now, the regional government does not believe it is necessary to require the Covid passport.
Galicia (222). The Galician High Court has approved the use of the Covid passport for people who want to visit patients in hospitals and also for nightlife venues. The executive is awaiting authorization from the courts to require the document for entry into bars and restaurants from 9pm onward.
La Rioja (224). For now, the regional government has no plans to introduce the use of the Covid passport. At its latest Cabinet meeting this week, the executive ruled out any additional measures to contain the rise in coronavirus cases.
Madrid (150). The Madrid region is not requiring Covid passports for access to any kind of venue. The regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso has stated that a debate is underway about its application, adding that she was “unclear whether it is the most efficient measure” and mentioning the legal problems seen in other regions. But Díaz Ayuso said that her government will this week present new measures in connection with the Christmas season, especially with regard to vaccination and tests.
Murcia (239). The High Court in the southeastern Murcia region has backed the use of the Covid certificate in nightlife venues at full capacity and at events with large crowds. It is not required at bars and restaurants.
Navarre (622). The Navarre High Court has approved the use of the Covid passport in the region, considering it a “suitable, necessary and proportionate” measure. Until January 6, the document will be required for access to restaurants with more than 60 patrons, establishments with a nightclub license and banquet halls. The certificate will also be required for access to large cultural indoor events that are for more than 1,000 people where food and drink can be consumed. The regional health chief, Santos Induráin, has admitted that the online app to download the certificate has caused “some logistical problems,” the daily Noticias de Navarra reported.
Valencia region (231). The regional High Court has approved the use of the Covid passport in bars and restaurants with capacity for more than 50 people, as well as nightlife venues, betting parlors, hospitals and care homes. The certificate will also be required at indoor social events and music festivals, and also outdoors when the use of masks cannot be guaranteed at all times. The measure will be in place for a month and is expected to be introduced on December 3 – the idea being that it will cover the holiday season and New Year.
Ceuta (108) and Melilla (203). For now, the Covid passport is not required in either of the North African exclave cities. “We are considering measures that will not affect hospitality or any indoor activity too intensely, but we will also work on creating safe spaces while trying not to hurt any sector,” said Paqui García Maeso, head of Melilla’s public health department, according to the daily El Faro de Melilla.