Spain is always well worth a visit, but suffice it to say that things have changed quite a bit in 2020.
Spain’s tourism industry—and as a result, its economy—have suffered greatly this year. If you’re healthy and able to travel right now, visiting Spain in a responsible way will do wonders to help us bounce back. But before you go, you’ll want to brush up on the basics of health and safety in Spain as they apply to the current situation.
Health & safety in Spain: Steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19
In spring 2020, Spain entered into the strictest lockdown in Europe to help contain the spread of the coronavirus and lessen the strain on the healthcare system as much as possible. The lockdown was gradually lifted in several steps starting in early May, and the nationwide state of alarm officially ended in June. That being said, Spain is still taking the pandemic seriously.
The information below was last updated August 26, 2020.
Face mask mandates
Face masks are mandatory in public areas in all autonomous regions of Spain, even in outdoor spaces or when able to maintain a safe distance.
Exceptions to the mask mandate vary by region, but in general, no mask is required:
- When eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant
- When doing a physical activity, such as running, biking or swimming
- For individuals with certain physical disabilities or respiratory illnesses
- For children under the age of 6
If you need to purchase additional masks in Spain, you can find them at any pharmacy.
Social distancing in public areas
Here in Spain, everyone is encouraged to observe the safety distance of two meters (about six feet) wherever possible. You’ll see this enforced in a number of ways:
- Many bars and restaurants have markings on the ground to help separate tables.
- Small shops and businesses often have a limited capacity, sometimes of just two or three guests at a time, due to limited space inside.
- Larger stores and markets have stickers and other markings on the ground to indicate the direction you should walk, where to stand in line, and more. If there is more than one set of doors, separate entrances and exits may be marked.
- Plexiglass shields are set up in front of counters and cash registers to help protect staff and customers.
Cleaning, sanitation and hygiene
Hygiene is also of the utmost importance here in Spain. Stores, restaurants and other businesses are being extra diligent about keeping soap available in public restrooms, and public spaces and surfaces are sanitized regularly. At bars and restaurants, tables are fully disinfected between groups, and in most places, commonly shared items such as olive oil bottles and jars of fresh tomato for toast have been replaced with individual portions.
During the height of the pandemic earlier this year, it was nearly impossible to find hand sanitizer. Luckily, that’s starting to change, and you can now find it at most grocery stores and pharmacies.
Protecting yourself & others while visiting Spain
Despite the face masks and physical barriers, it’s still possible to have an enjoyable visit to Spain during COVID-19. But doing so responsibly during this pandemic means keeping health and safety front of mind.
In addition to wearing masks and washing your hands frequently, be sure to make an effort to keep a physical distance wherever possible to protect yourself and the local community. This means taking seats that are far from others on public transportation, keeping at least two meters between yourself and the person in front of you in line if possible, and anything else that keeps you at a safe distance.
To avoid overcrowding (and potentially spreading the virus) in indoor settings, try to spend some time outside when you can. From relaxing in one of Spain’s beautiful parks and gardens to enjoying drinks on a terrace rather than inside a bar, it’s entirely possible to make the most of your time in Spain while getting plenty of fresh air.
Check out these posts for recommendations for outdoor activities and spaces in our favorite Spanish cities:
- The best parks and gardens in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville
- Where to rent bikes in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and San Sebastian
- Rooftop bars in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville for al fresco drinks
- Gorgeous terraces in Barcelona, Seville and San Sebastian
- Beaches near Barcelona and in San Sebastian you can’t miss
- Self-guided walking routes in Madrid and Barcelona
- Where to go for a jog in Madrid
Important vocabulary to know regarding health and safety in Spain
Traveling to a new country where you don’t speak the local language can be especially confusing during a pandemic. Here are some helpful health- and safety-related words and phrases in Spanish that you may see or hear during your trip, or that you may need to use yourself.
- Mascarilla: Face mask
- Distancia de seguridad: Safety distance
- Dos metros: Two meters
- Gel de manos or gel hidroalcoholico: Hand sanitizer
- Desinfectante: Disinfectant
- Farmacia: Pharmacy
- Hospital (pronounced “os-pee-TAHL”): Hospital
- Prueba de COVID: COVID test
- Entrada: Entrance
- Salida: Exit
Where to find reliable current information about health and safety in Spain
For the most up-to-date information on any travel restrictions to or from Spain, including whether or not you need to self-isolate upon return, check with your country’s embassy in Spain.
For information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 in Spain, check out the following trustworthy sources:
- El País, Spain’s largest national newspaper (available in English or Spanish)
- The Spanish Ministry of Health website (in Spanish)
- Spain’s official tourism board
Can’t make it to Spain right now? We get it—so we created a brand-new online space to bring together Spain lovers from all corners of the world. Join the Spain Travel & Food Community on Facebook and get exclusive advice from our team of experts, recipes from fellow food lovers, inspiration for your future trip and so much more!