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Spain begins gradual reopening of external borders to 15 non-EU countries as recommended by EU Council

Friday 3 July 2020

The government has decided to gradually lift the restrictions on access to travellers via external borders to Spain to the residents of the 15 non-EU countries recommended by the Council of the European Union (EU) on 30 June. In the case of Morocco, Algeria and China, the reopening of borders is subject to these countries acting reciprocally by reopening their borders to residents in Spain.

This is contained in the Order signed by the Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, published on Friday in the Official State Gazette, which will come into force at midnight on Saturday, 4 July 2020 (Friday night to Saturday morning). Thenceforth, borders will effectively be reopened for residents of Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The application of the criterion of reciprocity with Algeria and Morocco is framed with the necessary cooperation at borders with two neighbouring countries with which we habitually share a high level of border entry and exit movements. Hence, the reopening for residents of Algeria and Morocco will take place within the framework of a coordinated process when borders reopen.

The Council of the EU recommended on 30 June lifting the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel for residents in a list of non-EU countries considered to be safe: Algeria, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China.

In compliance with these recommendations, the government has analysed the necessary conditions for each of these countries to consider the normal movement of people between them viable and, once complied with, allow the entry and exit of travellers.

China, Morocco and Algeria

In the case of China, the Council of the EU recommended subjecting the reopening of borders of Member States to confirmation of the existence of a reciprocal system by China, as contained in the Order of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As regards Algeria and Morocco, any future decision on a possible lifting of border restrictions must take into consideration that both countries maintain their borders closed, as well as the considerable usual volume of movements between Spain and each of these African countries.

Meanwhile, the temporary closure of the border posts enabled for the entry and exit from Spain through the cities of Ceuta and Melilla is maintained.

Restrictions and exceptions

The Ministerial Order published on Friday in the Official State Gazette maintains the restrictions on the EU's external borders in Spain for the residents of the rest of the countries not included on the list drawn up by the Council of the EU.

As regards the categories of people exempt from the restrictions regardless of their place of origin, some additional categories have been included or the scope of those provided for to date in the successive Orders relating to external borders has been extended.

Accordingly, nationals from third countries other than those included on the EU list may not enter Spain with the following exceptions:

a) Residents of the European Union, Schengen Associated States, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican City (Holy See) and San Marino.

b) Holders of a long-term visa issued by a Member State or Schengen Associated State.

c) Cross-border workers.

d) Health professionals, including health researchers, and professionals that provide care for the elderly travelling to or from work.

e) Transport staff, sailors and necessary aeronautical personnel required to carry out air transport activities.

f) Diplomatic staff, consular workers, those working for international organisations, military personnel and members of humanitarian organisations, in the exercise of their functions.

g) Students carrying out their studies in Member States or Schengen Associated States in possession of the corresponding permit or visa.

h) Highly skilled workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or performed off-site, including participants in high-level sporting events held in Spain. These circumstances must be duly substantiated in a documentary form.

i) People who travel for duly accredited pressing family reasons.

j) People who can accredit through documentation grounds of force majeure or situations of need, and whose entry is allowed on humanitarian grounds.

k) Seasonal agricultural workers.

Both the restrictions and the categories of exemption refer to nationals and residents of third countries other than those included on the EU list, given that, with the entry into force on 1 July of Order INT/578/2020, of 29 June, EU citizens and their families, and other beneficiaries of the right to free movement, already fell out of the scope of the application of the temporary restrictions on Spanish external borders.

This new law on border controls will remain in force until midnight on 1 August 2020, regardless of its potential amendment to respond to a change in circumstance or new recommendations from the European Union or future extensions. This will not apply on the land border with Andorra or at the border control with the territory of Gibraltar.

Non official translation