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CONFIRMED: Spain to welcome British tourists without PCRs or quarantine from Monday May 24th

Spanish authorities have confirmed that UK holidaymakers can visit Spain without the need to quarantine or present a negative PCR test from next Monday May 24th. 

CONFIRMED: Spain to welcome British tourists without PCRs or quarantine from Monday May 24th
CONFIRMED: Spain to welcome British tourists without PCRs orUK nationals who aren't residents in Spain can finally come for non-essential reasons from May 24th.Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

In a matter of three days, UK nationals will be able to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as holidays, the Spanish government has confirmed. 

British holidaymakers will not need to present a negative PCR test to enter Spain, nor will they need to quarantine when arriving in the country. 

However, they will have to factor in that Spain is currently on the UK’s amber list for travel, which requires 10 days of quarantine upon return to Britain and three PCR tests.

The announcement was published on Friday May 21st in Spain’s official state bulletin. 

News that Spain will finally allow Britons to travel to the country for non-essential reasons and without a PCR has been met with both joy and confusion. 

Many Brits have taken to forums and social media groups to ask if it was actually possible for them to travel to Spain without proof that they aren’t Covid-19 carriers or at least immune, especially in light of the increased prevalence of the Indian strain in the UK. 

Spain’s Foreign Office has since published the following statement confirming that PCR tests will not be required but British holidaymakers will need to fill in a health control form.

READ MORE: Spain clarifies – UK visitors will NOT need to show PCR test but will require health form

The document explains that Spain’s decision may soon be followed by a similar one by the European Union, in terms of confirming whether Britons as non-EU nationals will be able to travel to EU countries for non-essential reasons and without restrictions.

Visitors from Japan are now also able to visit Spain from Monday May 24th without a PCR or other travel restrictions. 

 “It is foreseeable” that the EU “will allow the inclusion of the United Kingdom and Japan among the countries exempted from restrictions. Several Member States already place them in that privileged position ”, writes the Spanish Government.

The United Kingdom and Japan join the list of countries whose travellers do not have any restrictions for travel to Spain, which already includes Israel, Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China , as well as residents of Hong Kong and Macao.

It isn’t clear yet what proof of vaccination, if any, British tourists will have to present to visit Spain. The Spanish government website still states that overseas visitors have to present a health control form.

Spain is currently working on its own ‘vaccine passport’ scheme which is due to be launched in June and will be incorporated into the EU’s vaccine certificate scheme, due to be active in July. 

The UK government officially advises against non-essential travel to all amber list countries including Spain, but there have been conflicting messages from British authorities over whether this means Britons should travel abroad or not.

“I think it’s very important for people to grasp what an amber list country is: it is not somewhere where you should be going on holiday, let me be very clear about that,”  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“And if people do go to an amber list country, they absolutely have to for some pressing family or urgent business reason, then please bear in mind that you will have to self-isolate, you’ll have to take tests and do your passenger locator form and all the rest of it.”

There is an important consequence to the type of official advice being given by the UK government relating to insurance.

The UK government’s official travel page states that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office position is “you should not travel to amber list countries” and this official advice will likely invalidate most travel insurance, so check your policy carefully.

Invalid travel insurance means you won’t be covered for things like cancellation costs but also, potentially more seriously, for health costs in case you become ill or have an accident while you are away.

The EHIC card, or its replacement GHIC, covers only some emergency medical care while travelling and there are many things that it does not cover, including repatriation costs if this is required. People who have travelled abroad against government advice could therefore be faced with a large bill for medical costs if they fall ill or have an accident while abroad.

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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