COVID 19 News

When will the Camino reopen?

 

As Spain and the rest of Europe are in the early stages of opening up their countries, people are naturally asking “when will the Camino re-open?” The following represents the most recent information and indications that we have about when we might expect to hear that the Camino in Spain is “open again,” and what kind of changes we might anticipate when it does..

First, it is important to understand that the Camino is not something you close. The Camino is a series of ancient pathways that finish in Santiago de Compostela. These paths have existed for centuries and we are confident they will continue to exist for many more. Nobody owns or is in charge of the Camino.  However the infrastructure (albergues, cafes, shops, etc) that line the various caminos are an intrinsic part of the Camino experience, and in that sense, there are physical elements of the camino that are closed. When and how they re-open will define the experience that we call the Camino.

Here are some things we know:

  • On March 14, Spain declared a State of Alarm. This state remains in place, and is expected to be extended for a sixth time, until June 21.
  • On April 28, the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, presented a four-phase Spanish Reopening Plan for gradual easing of restrictions, which will be implemented at different rates (‘asymmetrically’) according to the health and epidemiological situation of each province.  The plan aims to return Spain to a ‘’new normal’’ by the end of June. Until then, even travel between regions of Spain will carry restrictions, and the country’s borders remain closed for non-essential travel into the country for non-Spanish nationals.
  • On May 11, The Instituto para la Calidad Turística Española (Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality) released draft new health and safety regulations for tourist accommodations and other amenities. You can read an English translation of the draft guidelines here.  Some albergues, shops and restaurants are already beginning to make the investment of reconfiguring their spaces, staffing and procedures to accommodate these measures; others may be unable to do so and may have to close permanently. Only when travel is permitted across regions will Spanish nationals be able to walk the Camino.
  • On May 12, The Spanish Ministry of Health ordered that passengers on international flights arriving from Spain will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.   The quarantine requirement will continue until the State of Alarm is lifted.
  • On May 23, Prime Minister Sanchez announced that ‘overseas’ travellers (extranjeros) will be able to travel to Spain as of July 1. This announcement came as something of a surprise, since many assumed that only European Union nationals would be allowed into Spain this summer.  Clarification is being sought, but it appears that permission to travel may be on the basis of country-to-country agreements and/or may apply only to EU countries.
  • Canada remains under an Official Global Travel Advisory, and Canadians are advised to avoid travel outside of Canada until further notice.
  • The Government of Canada maintains an official outbreak page with up-to-date and official information relating to COVID 19.

Here are some other factors that may also affect the ability of Canadian pilgrims to return to the Camino:

  • Many airlines have grounded a significant portion of their airplanes and laid off hundreds of staff as they await the release of regulations that may affect their schedules and pricing;
  • Travel and health insurance operators are re-thinking health benefits and cancellation coverage in the wake of Covid-19;
  • Development of a reliable vaccine is in its early testing stages and may (optimistically) take another 18-24 months for release;
  • All public health and government restrictions are subject to review of the progress of the pandemic; a “second wave” will almost certainly prompt a return to stricter control of travel and movement.

This is a story that is developing daily, if not hourly. We urge Canadians who are planning to walk the Camino to stay informed and to make informed decisions based on official sources.

Stay healthy, until we meet again on the Camino!

–your CCoP officers and board