Living with covid: Canaries accepts vaccination proof instead of test when booking into regulated tourist accommodation

The Canaries are under regional restrictions defined by “levels”: Tenerife is in level 2, and the principal rules in place are: 

  • face masks must be worn by everyone of 6 years of age and above at all times and places outside the home regardless of distancing, though exemptions exist for medical conditions (medical proof required – in Spanish because it will be Policía Local who’ll stop and fine you), working or exercising which makes wearing a mask impossible but mask must be carried to put on as soon as exempt activity stops. They can be removed at the moment of eating or drinking, and for exercise or swimming, and for rest periods in between if not moving and with physical distancing guaranteed. Fabric masks are legal but if attending a hospital or doctor’s surgery, masks must be of the hygenic or surgical type from a chemist or sanitary provisions supplier (see HERE)
  • social groups limited to six, can be exceeded for those living together
  • physical distancing of 1.5m wherever possible   
  • private cars can be occupied to a maximum allowed to be in a social group depending on the level. Masks must be worn if the occupants are from different households, and windows open or aircon switched on but with air drawn from outside, not recirculated interior air
  • time and capacity restrictions, distancing & hygiene rules apply in shops and offices including Government departments, bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums, churches, beaches, markets, gyms, casinos, etc. Prior appointments/pre-booking may be required 
  • catering establishments close by midnight, limited capacity – 75% on terrace, 50% inside, six per table outside, four per table inside, home delivery to midnight; if you eat indoors in an establishment you will be required to provide your details for track and trace purposes 
  • smoking banned outside bars, restaurants, etc., and in any outdoor public spaces unless smoker is alone, stationary, and with 2m cordon (smoking already banned by Spain in enclosed public spaces and outside schools, hospitals, etc)
  • late night bars, nightclubs & discos closed, and crowd events banned
  • sports and physical exercise in the open air can be carried out individually or up to a maximum of six in a group with 2m physical distancing

To enter Tenerife: 

  • Spain has various border restrictions in place for a range of countries to different dates. Travellers need to check that their means and route of both departure from their home country and arrival in Spain for their nationality are permitted: most countries will have their own official Governmental websites for advice about travel to various countries, for example HERE is the UK’s FCDO for travel advice concerning Spain – at present the UK is on Spain’s list of countries allowed entry but Spain is on the UK’s amber list meaning those returning to Britain will need tests and quarantine
  • all visitors must bring a passenger location form (digital or paper, English or Spanish – see HERE) with their personal details including where they will be staying in Spain  
  • all visitors to Spain from a high risk country, regardless of where they’re staying, must provide:
    • certificate of vaccination
    • OR negative test – EU-approved antigen acceptable, or obviously PCR, TMA or LAMP
    • OR approved medical document certifiying recovery from covid itself 
    • Any of these certificates may be in Spanish, English, French or German – if in another language, an official translation into Spanish must be provided  
  • national arrivals to the Canaries (from other parts of Spain) over 6 years of age need:
    • proof of vaccination – either of the complete required dose for the vaccine they received within the previous 8 months or having received the first of two doses more than a fortnight but less than 4 months before arrival
    • OR negative test – antigen acceptable
    • OR medical certificate confirming recovery from covid within the previous six months
    • OR proof that they have not left the Islands in the fortnight prior to their arrival at the accommodation, and that in this period they have not had symptoms compatible with covid-19  
  • all national and international visitors to regulated tourist accommodation in the Canaries (hotels, tourist apartment complexes, rural hotels etc) must present at reception on arrival:
    • proof of vaccination – either of the complete required dose for the vaccine they received within the previous 8 months or having received the first of two doses more than a fortnight but less than 4 months before arrival
    • OR negative test – antigen acceptable
    • OR medical certificate confirming recovery from covid within the previous six months
    • OR proof that they have not left the Islands in the fortnight prior to their arrival at the accommodation, and that in this period they have not had symptoms compatible with covid-19  
  • All arrivals at regulated tourist accommodation will also be required to download the official track and trace app

Updated 4 June: As we know, Spain itself announced on 24 May that it would allow British and Japanese visitors back into the country without restriction as long as arrivals come straight here and haven’t been in a “risk country” in the previous fortnight. The Canarian Government itself has now published the decree I reported about last week (update immediately below) allowing tourists to access regulated tourist accommodation from anywhere without a test if they’ve been vaccinated.

I’ve updated the Restrictions in a Nutshell page HERE, but the decree itself is HERE. It allows visitors to enter their holiday accommodation without a test if they provide documentary evidence of having been vaccinated more than a fortnight but less than eight months prior to arrival (four months if a single dose administered – slightly different for those who can show at least one of two required doses administered). Those who can show that they have recovered from covid within the previous six months will also be exempt from bringing a negative test, as is anyone who can prove that they are returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours.

Unfortunately, British holidaymakers have already been mistakenly told that they may not come to regulated tourist accommodation here because they are non-EU, or that a covid test result must be provided even if they’ve been vaccinated or have a medical cert of having had covid. This is wrong. The decree allows for “any one of the following conditions” to permit tourists to access their accommodation, and those conditions are any one (not all) of the following:

  • antigen test
  • certificate showing full vaccine has been received within eight months prior to arrival
  • certificate showing first of two required doses have been received more than a fortnight but less than four months prior to arrival
  • medical proof of recovering from covid itself
  • proof of returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours

Updated 28 May: The Canarian Government is removing the requirement for negative covid tests for some arrivals from other parts of Spain. Those who won’t have to bring a test are those who provide documentary evidence of having been vaccinated more than a fortnight but less than eight months prior to arrival (four months for the single dose vaccine). Those who can show that they have recovered from covid within the previous six months will also be excused the need to bring a negative test, as is anyone who can prove that they are returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours. The new measure will come into force when it’s published in the BOC next week.

Updated 27 May: Following today’s Cabinet meeting, Gran Canaria moves to level 1 but Tenerife and Lanzarote stay in level 2. 

Updated 14 May: The Canarian Government has published its new closing times for the different levels. They are in the BOC HERE and set closing times for islands in level 1 and 2 at midnight; level 3 at 11pm; and level 4 at  6pm.  

Updated 13 May: In the first weekly revision since the end of the estado de alarma, the Canarian Government has confirmed that Tenerife remains in level 2. As announced yesterday, bars will be able to stay open until midnight from tomorrow night, gaining an hour for level 2. Next revision will be in a week, meanwhile El Hierro has gone down from level 2 to level 1. 

Green circle Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro (level 1)
Orange circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)

Updated 12 May: Following this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, the Canarian Government has confirmed this evening that it won’t be appealing the curfew rule. The Courts rejected the plan for a curfew on the grounds that although there was no human rights issue in a health emergency, the Government had other rules in place to control behaviour, like bar closure times, and so a curfew was not needed on top of that. The Government has said that it will, however, appeal the Courts’ rejection of its inter-island travel restrictions for islands in levels 3 or 4. It has also announced that hospitality venues like bars and restaurants in islands in level 2, like Tenerife, will be required to close at midnight instead of 11pm from Friday night. Government spokesman Julio Pérez said that the Government already had power to enforce closing times of venues and so their main concern was restricting group sizes, a measure which the Courts approved. As such, the Government has concluded that they have sufficient powers without the curfew, and Pérez emphasized that in this phase, the control of the pandemic was down to individual responsibility. 

Updated 10 May: Before appealing direct to the Supreme Court, the Canarian Government asked the Canarian High Court for clarification as to whether the measures were legally enforceable during the appeal process. They were told that they were not, and so while the appeal to the Supreme Court proceeds, there is no curfew in place. This at least clarifies the situation of those who might have been fined this week for violations of a measure that was in abeyance, but means that by the weekend we could have curfew back, along with all the damage caused in the intervening days. For this reason the Government has begged the public to behave responsibly over the next few days while the appeal confirms whether this measure can or cannot be in place.

Updated 6pm, 9/5: The Canarian Government has confirmed this evening that it will appeal today’s ruling by the Canarian High Court to the Supreme Court, and the Government says it is already working on it. The Government also confirmed that after its initial analysis of the Canarian High Court’s ruling, it considers the measures to remain in force while the appeal proceeds … we therefore have curfew and inter-island travel restrictions despite the non-ratification of the High Court pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Updated 9 May: The Canarian High Court has ratified some of the regional Government’s measures but not the curfew or entry restrictions for islands in level 3 or 4. It has confirmed group limits according to the tier, along with places of worship capacity restrictions. The Court said that it rejected the request for the curfew, however, because it was a simple matter of a restriction at a particular hour when, for the Government to curtail risky public behaviour it has other legal instruments to intervene that impinge on individual rights to a lesser extent.

So, the Government has been confirmed to have the power to set tier levels for the separate islands and the group limits according to the level of alert in place for each island: in Tenerife’s case this is currently level 2 with groups limited to six. With regard to the two measures rejected by majority 3-2 vote, the Government has indicated that it will appeal to the Supreme Court, and indeed the Supreme Court may be the likeliest final destination for all these piecemeal measures around the country that inevitably replaced the cohesive framework of the estado de alarma. Some regions of Spain have already had their proposed measures refused, others are like the Canaries in having some agreed and others refused, yet others have curfew approved while here it’s been rejected, and so on. Some see it inevitable that there will have to be some coordination in Spain’s future covid measures because there are presently 17 autonomous communities all doing their own thing with their own regional Courts reacting differently. 

Updated 8 May: The Canarian High Court will rule tomorrow, Sunday, on the regional Government’s measures which need judicial ratification since the estado de alarma which provided that national framework ends at midnight tonight. The specific measures which need legal ratifying are the perimetral closure of the islands at level 3 and 4, curfew, group limits, and capacity restrictions in places of workship. No other measures, eg facemasks, need extra powers and are within the remit of the Canarian Government to set.

Updated 7 May: The new measures have been published today in the BOC HERE. They will be in force from the minute the estado de alarma ends at 00.00h Sunday 9 May until, at least in the first instance, 24.00h, 31 July. These new restrictions and limits on fundamental rights need judicial ratification since they no longer have the legal framework provided by the estado de alarma. As such, they will be passed to the Courts for confirmation but will be in force from 00.00h this Sunday even if the Courts haven’t ratified them by then. If the measures were to be refused legal validity they would be invalidated and guidance would be provided as to what might be legally permissible for the Government to impose, but really, it is unlikely that the Courts will refuse to support measures that are part of emergency public health procedures.  

Updated 6 May: And finally we know what the new normal looks like, at least for the time being. The Canaries have been exempt from Spain’s estado de alarma but it has nonetheless been in place, providing the legal framework for the measures taken in the Canaries, such as the curfew, as it did elsewhere in Spain. As of Sunday 9 May, however, the state of emergency that took so much political negotiating to achieve comes to an end along with the measures that will replace it, but as Clio and I have discussed in the podcast, things weren’t expected to look all that different … and they won’t. And so, for the time being, in the Canaries, the levels will be maintained along with the existing measures in all islands, including the curfew. Also maintained will be ports and airports controls. These measures will be in place until 13 May in the first instance, and the full details will be published tomorrow in the BOC.

Updated 4 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has confirmed that Tenerife will go down to Level 2 from today, with a review next Tuesday, 11 May, by which time of course we will be far clearer about the framework of measures that will replace the national estado de alarma that ends this coming Sunday, 9 May. Regional Health Secretary Blas Trujillo said that the average number of cases being recorded in Tenerife allows this change now, with a drop from 97 between 14 and 27 April to 75 in the last week. Trujillo said that Tenerife remained at medium risk, the highest of all the islands, but case tracing is effective, and the general trend is downwards though ICU capacity remains a clear concern. With these changes, Tenerife’s curfew remains at 11pm but groups of 6 can meet, and the hospitality industry will be pleased because it means they can reopen their interiors to customers though with reduced capacity and table occupancy inside compared to their external terraces.

Green circle Fuerteventura, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)

Updated 3 May: As we wait for tomorrow’s announcement by Sanidad (Canarias) about Tenerife’s tier, with everyone hoping for the level to be reduced from 3 to 2, Adeje Ayuntamiento has announced that its Policía Local, reinforced by Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil officers, had to break up two illegal parties in the municipio over the weekend. Both parties, one on Diego Hernández beach and the other in an empty water reservoir along the Camino de la Virgin, involved over 100 people who were not observing Covid restrictions; one had also exceeded the curfew when it was broken up. 

Adeje’s Security councillor Mercedes Vargas Delgado has reiterated her call for the people of Adeje to make “an extra effort to stick to the rules.  We have had a complicated few months but bit by bit things are improving and it would be tragic to see people get ill and lose their lives as a result of this kind of behaviour”. The councillor reminded people that in a tourist borough and area there is a need for extra security and personnel, with situations difficult to police with elevated numbers despite a good working relationship between the local and national police forces.

As I’ve said myself several times over the last year, Policía Local numbers are often barely sufficient for the purpose, and in this type of situation they’re also expected to police the social behaviour of, inevitably, their own friends and families. Naturally, therefore, they need reinforcement, and the council itself stresses the on-going need for increased National Police and Guardia Civil numbers in the south of the island.

Updated 29 April: Following this week’s Cabinet, Tenerife remains the only island in Level 3 as Gran Canaria is reduced to Level 2 and Fuerteventura to Level 1. The Government considers that although Tenerife’s figures are beginning to show an improvement, that isn’t sufficient to warrant relaxing our restrictions when Adeje and Arona together far outweigh any other area’s sanctions for violations of safety measures. The Government therefore feels it’s “more prudent” to wait until the reduction is consolidated. While Tenerife’s level will be reviewed next Tuesday 4 May, nationally all eyes are on 9 May when the estado de alarma is lifted. Although not currently in effect in the Canaries, the measures that will replace it will be decided by an Interterritorial Health Council comprising the presidents of the regions to be convened in the near future.

Green circle Fuerteventura, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife (level 3)

Updated 22 April: This week’s levels of alert see a change for El Hierro which worsens from level 1 to level 2. Tenerife remains at level 3 until the next review next Thursday. There are some changes to the criteria for level 3, notably that the curfew now starts at 11pm, and that travel restrictions between the islands are back to Easter format, where you just need a negative test (edit 23 April: BOC HERE).

Green circle La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria (level 3)

Updated 15 April: Despite loud calls from police and some unions for Tenerife to be taken up to Level 4, the Canarian Government has announced that we are to remain in level 3. The only island whose level has changed is Fuerteventura, which has joined Lanzarote and La Graciosa in level 2. Gran Canaria too remains in level 3, and La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro in Level 1. The Government admitted that Tenerife, and Gran Canaria for that matter, have worrying figures and that they can’t be allowed to keep going up much longer … a clear warning that if things don’t change we are staring level 4 in the face.

Green circle El Hierro, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Fuerteventura, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria (level 3)

Updated 6pm, 8/4: The Canarian Government has announced this evening that Tenerife remains in Level 3 until the next revision on 15 April.

Updated 8 April: Following an outcry over the Spanish Government’s announcement of 30 March that masks were required on the beach and around swimming pools, the Spanish Government has resolved the confusion. As I said on the 31st, the Canarian Government itself said that it had its own legislation allowing an exemption for beaches, but some local police were prepared to enforce the national law. Spain has now confirmed, however, that masks can be removed while swimming in the sea or pools, as well as in rest periods before or after swimming provided physical distancing can be maintained. Masks must be put on when moving around resting places, changing rooms, or in the area of the water. 

Updated 6 April: A reminder from Sanidad about the 6Ms … Mascarilla (mask – wear one), Manos (hands – wash them), Metros (distance – keep it), Máxima ventilación (maximise ventilation – be outdoors or open windows to create through draught), Minimizar contactos (minimise contacts – group numbers are a limit not a goal), Me quedo en casa si tengo síntomas (stay home if you have symptoms … some think it’s best to stay home whenever you can, symptoms or no). 

Updated 4 April: There’s a pretty good chance, it seems to me, of case numbers rising substantially enough to warrant Tenerife, at least, going to Level 4 after the Easter break. I phrase it like that because it does seem to be what people want given that they simply will not stop behaving in ways that violate any number of health emergency measures. Anyway, as police throughout Tenerife have had to break up various parties, often in out of the way fincas, in Adeje at least the violation was anything but secret. Police have condemned a public boxing bout on a beach in the municipio watched by a group of people who were maskless, right next to each other … a video of the fight has been posted several times on social media, as below from Sur de Tenerife. 

The Ayuntamiento has reminded the public that Tenerife is in Level 3 with a very high number of cases in Adeje municipio specifically, and called for public responsibility even though it’s a special time of year. I don’t normally criticize the authorities without very good reason because in a situation like this pandemic it can undermine their efforts but maybe councils could just once and for all fully support their municipal forces and train or provision them adequately, and ensure they can get the backup they need from the Nationals and Guardia Civil to police such incidents properly. No amount of posturing or carefully worded statements about taking care of others, deploring violent sports, or the borough’s tourist image is going to have any effect if the authorities don’t do anything more. They need to act, not just pay lip service to their concerns about Intensive Care Unit occupancy. Virtue signalling is not and cannot be the answer.

I’ve said before that I don’t actually think it should be the Policía Local’s job to police these sorts of issues. Often they are employed in their own locality where they have friends and family who remain in that locality, and who own and use shops, bars, beaches, etc. They are being expected to police their own families in some cases, and that is a recipe for disaster. The councils might not be able to provision their police forces adequately, or employ sufficient numbers with the municipal resources that they have, or enforce the enforcement of rules when police might be compromised through family or other ties, but they have a voice. Why is the voice of all the councils not combined to call for adequate policing external from their own boroughs? Why are they not calling for the official deployment of the Policía Canaria – it took them long enough to get a regional police force, why not use it for this? Or why not speak with one voice to the Internal Ministry and/or the Ministry of Defence to police through Policía Nacional or Guardia Civil with the Policía Local providing support functions where their loyalties are not challenged? Or something else, whatever, but this is not currently working!  

Updated 31 March: There is confusion over one aspect of the New Normal law, that of wearing masks on the beach and around swimming pools. The situation is currently that the national Government’s legislation requires masks in all public spaces, and that the Canarian Government notes that the rules are an extension of those in place a year ago and are covered by Canarian legislation allowing an exemption for beaches. Some local police are preparing to police according to the spirit of the Canarian Government’s interpretation of the old regional law while others are planning to enforce according to the letter of the new national one. According to the former, masks can be removed while sunbathing or bathing provided the 2m distance can be observed, though they should be worn while moving about a beach or pool area; according to the latter, however, a beach or swimming pool area is an open air space and masks are required at all times.

Updated 30 March: The Spanish Government has published its New Normal legislation in the BOE today HERE. The law, which will be in place from tomorrow, sets in place the regulations we will have to live with for the foreseeable future, including face masks virtually everywhere for all over six years of age. The rule has caused no end of controversy but it is quite clear that face masks will remain required in all public spaces, including streets, plazas, even beaches, … specifically “la vía pública, en espacios al aire libre y en cualquier espacio cerrado de uso público o que se encuentre abierto al público.” – public roads, open-air spaces, and any closed spaces for public use. They will also be required on all public transport and shared private transport where the occupants don’t live together. There will be the usual exemptions for those who have breathing or other physical or psychological conditions, and these will need proof by official (and Spanish) medical notification. Exercise will be another reason to leave the mask off or doing work where it’s just not possible but as before a mask must be available to put on immediately the activity stops.

Updated 20 March: The measures have been published today in the BOC. The new general measures are HERE, and the specific Easter measures HERE. The Easter measures will be in force from 00.00h 26 March to 24.00h 9 April.

Updated 19 March: People are confused by the new level 3 measures because they seem to be so similar to the reinforced level 2 that we’ve been under, and now there are new Easter measures too. I’ve updated the list in bold above from the Government’s announcements so that it’s correct as of Sunday night when level 3 comes into force at midnight, and added in the Easter measures that will be in place from 26 March to 9 April inclusive. All this needs confirmation from the published measures when they appear in the BOC, probably tomorrow.

The biggest change we will notice, I imagine, is that consumption inside bars and restaurants won’t be possible in level 3: places will be able to remain open until midnight for home takeout deliveries though they’ll have to close to the public at 10pm for curfew. In addition, groups will be limited to four in public spaces but get-togethers in people’s homes will not be possible: private spaces will be restricted just to those living together. Level 3 will also close off Tenerife with entry and departure only for permitted reasons (the ones we’re always used to, eg returning home, work, medical, legal, banks … ). We have all these measures to 9 April.

Updated 18 March: The updated levels that will apply from 00.00h Monday 22 March:

Green circle El Hierro, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Lanzarote (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria & Fuerteventura (level 3)

The measures for the levels are to be reinforced since this period is now coming up to Easter, and we’ll see in the BOC announcement, probably tomorrow or Saturday, what this means for Tenerife over coming weeks. In terms specifically of Easter restrictions, said to be in place from Friday 26 March to Friday 9 April, there is likely to be a restriction on groups of non-cohabitants meeting in private homes though they can meet in groups of four from different households in public spaces and establishments.

This post is split from the earlier one which had become too unwieldy. That’s now archived HERE.