What began with news that over the weekend the Spanish government had imposed border restrictions for Portuguese entering the country, ended with an apology and a reversal of the decision.

Legislation passed over the weekend, which came into force at the start of the week, required tourists entering Spain to have documentation to prove that they had a negative Covid-19 test, a vaccine or proof that they had recovered from the disease. This legislation also included Portuguese tourists entering Spain by car or train to meet the same conditions for those travelling by plane or boat.

The news was met with confusion by the Portuguese government, with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa stating that he found the entire situation “very strange”.

Speaking on Monday, he said: “Naturally, having come from Spain two days ago, I think it’s not only strange, it’s very strange that this has happened without a word to the Portuguese government.” This led him to add that if the situation was to continue the government would have to consider “a reciprocal arrangement”.

By Tuesday, Spain had taken the position of denying any form of border control and instead referred to a measure of “random checks”.

According to a report by Lusa, the Spanish authorities confirmed that “random checks” would be carried out within the Spanish territory but maintained that travellers to the country would be required to have a negative Covid-19 test, vaccination certificate or disease recovery certificate.

According to a source from the Spanish Ministry of Health, “there is an obligation to have the documentation and if, by chance, there is a random check, it must be presented”.

“This will be the general rule”, but there will not be “permanent physical checks” at land borders, there will only be “random” inspections, as is currently the case under the Schengen Agreement.

These certifications at the time included a negative Covid-19 diagnostic test (done within the previous 48 hours), which can be PCR or antigen, vaccination certificate or disease recovery certificate.

The sources assured that at the land border with France the same rule is applied.

Change of heart

Later that day, the Portuguese minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, announced that Spain would be amending the rule that requires the presentation of proof of vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative test at the land borders with Portugal.

“We had very intense contacts at all levels with the Spanish Government during the afternoon and evening of yesterday [Monday] and even last night we received confirmation from the Spanish authorities that, in fact, it was a lapse that would be corrected today and, therefore, this is what will happen”, said the minister.

By the end of the day the Spanish government had apologised for the “confusion” and said it would proceed on 9 June to review “the entire document” that requires traveling with a vaccination certificate between Portugal and Spain.

“The Ministry of Health itself [Spanish] has already conveyed that effectively, with regard to travel by land with Portugal, one is going to return to where one was. In other words, it will not require any type of proof, any type of additional protocol beyond what was already requested”, said María Jesús Montero at the press conference after the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers.