(As of 29th December 2021)

Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2021.

As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it’s like in southern Spain is needed.

What restrictions are there in southern Spain?

Couple wearing face mask

Malaga province is in level 2 from the 30th December 2021 – the second most lenient set of restrictions. Malaga province includes: Marbella, Puerto Banus, Malaga city, La Axarquia, Benahavis, Ronda and Estepona. Life has certainly moved from the relaxed feel of the summer and autumn to a slightly more serious mindset to try and curb cases. Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have indoor capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment. As of 9th May 2021 Spain is no longer in a state of alarm and therefore there is no curfew and there are no restrictions in place in terms of moving from one area to another.

Face coverings are obligatory when outdoors and they must be worn at all times indoors or when 1.5m can’t be adhered to outdoors if over 6 years old, other than:

  • Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • In the sea or swimming pool.
  • In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
  • when practicing sports.
  • when in natural spaces, such as the mountains or the beach.
  • when you are alone, with your family unit.

Do I have to wear a face covering?

The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless outdoors with distance and during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.

Are restaurants open?

Waiter with face mask

Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. To enter a restaurant you have to wear a face covering, show your Covid vaccination certificate and ID. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times. There is a maximum of 10 people per table outside and 8 people per table inside. Restaurants have to close at midnight.

Are Beaches open in Andalucia?

Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit.

The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy safely the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.

Are tourist sights open?

Alhambra Palace

Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.

Do face coveringS need to be worn while driving?

When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.

What’s the general mood in southern Spain?

Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was not on the cards. But from May 2021 saw the majority of restrictions being lifted: – nightclubs were allowed open until 2am, dancing is allowed externally and events are being held with social distancing being put in place. Long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It’s really business as usual with some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.

What is State of Alarm and What Does it Mean?

The state of alarm was lifted on 9th May 2021 so these restrictions no longer apply.

The phrase state of alarm sounds very official and, well, alarming however, it is really just an administration step for the government and helps regional governments put in place restrictions. This phase allows the government (if necessary) to limit the movement of people at specific locations and times, temporary use private industries (such as private hospitals), limit the use of services and ensure the supply of necessary goods and services. In 2020 during Covid19, the state of alarm has meant limiting the movement of people between different provinces and curfews been implemented (from 23.00-06.00hrs).

In no circumstances does state of alarm mean visitors aren’t permitted to travel back to their home country.

Air travel – Is it safe?

Airport seats with distancing

So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place.

Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” – the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour – can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground.

Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. See British Airways safety measure here. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some.

As from December 24th 2021 if traveling from the UK:

  • You need a negative PCR test to enter Spain
  • For more information about travelling to Spain: https://www.spth.gob.es/

When returning to the UK from Spain:

  • You need a negative PCR test within 72hrs of flight. It is possible to obtain a test at Malaga Airport but all private clinics offer tests too. To book a test online try: Travelcovidtestcenter.com. Alternatively, in Marbella: Atlantic-clinic.es & Rapidmedico.es
  • Book a day 2 test for your arrival in the UK
  • Fill in a passenger location form – see here
  • Quarantine at home until the you receive a negative test result.

Covid Test in Malaga Airport

In Summary

  • It is possible to travel between autonomous regions within Spain
  • Shops and businesses are open their usual hours
  • Bars and restaurants are open until midnight. A maximum of 8 people per table indoors and 10 outdoors
  • Tourist sights and attractions are open
  • Nightclubs are open until 2am, outdoor dancing allowed indoor dancing prohibited
  • Events are allowed with a maximum of 300 people indoors, 500 outdoors
  • Cinemas, theatres, and cultural events may be held with 1 free seat between attendees
  • No restrictions on beaches or swimming pools, distances between groups of more than 10 must be maintained

As of December 2021, in Spain 37,853,370 people have been fully vaccinated, that’s 79.9% of the population.

Adapting to the new normal, being responsible while still carrying on with life has become something we’ve all had to do during 2020 and 2021. If you have any questions at all about traveling to Spain, our Covid19 policies or what it’s like in Spain at the moment then don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ben Cooper

A head-over-heels hispanophile, Ben is a one-time travel editor at Rough Guides, DK Travel, ELLEuk and Red Online.

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