American Pilgrims is echoing official advice from numerous sources to postpone all international travel. We will continue to pass along news from the official and authoritative sources listed below. We recommend you stay up to date on the virus using official and reliable sources for information. Keep in mind there is a lot of misinformation, speculation and inaccuracies on the internet. Use your best judgment. International travel is not advised.

As the situation in Spain is subject to change – forward or backward – at any time, we suggest “El País in English for up-to-date general news.

On June 29th, the European Union approved a list of countries whose passport holders will be allowed into the EU. The United States is not on that list. At present US passport holders, with only very special and specific exceptions, are disallowed entry into the EU. This severe restriction is likely to remain in place until the US COVID-19 case rate falls below that of the EU. As of early July those numbers are about 15 per 100,000 for the EU and about 145 per 100,000 for the US. Clearly this restriction is very likely to linger into the end of the year.

The Washington Post, July 8, 2020: “Everything Americans need to know about the E.U. travel ban

July 25, 2020: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has established a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers returning to the UK from Spain. Spanish officials have begun reimposing various restrictions, fearing the emergence of a second wave of infections.

American Pilgrims local chapters are following applicable state and local public health recommendations and requirements concerning chapter events. We encourage everyone to abide by these restrictions.

As of June 30th, the global level 4 health advisory issued by the U.S. State Department on March 19th is still in effect: “Avoid all international travel.” Read more here:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/travel-advisory-alert-global-level-4-health-advisory-issue.html

The new normality: Until the crisis is over, masks will be mandatory when distancing cannot be maintained. By “over” they mean the epidemic is under control or there is an effective treatment or there is a widely available vaccine. The timing of all of those is questionable.  See https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-06-09/spanish-cabinet-approves-decree-for-new-normality-after-coronavirus-state-of-alarm-ends.html

The Spanish government in conjunction with the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality has issued requirements for ALL albergues in Spain. The term “albergue” refers to “hostel” style facilities, not only those on the Camino. There is no differentiation between commercial establishments and municipal or donativo albergues. These recommendations involve changes drastically different from the albergue experience of the past.
Hostels on the Camino: Health Recommendations
Hostels on the Camino: Sanitary Recommendations

The Executive Committee of the Jacobean Council has issued a guide for those planning on walking or cycling on the Camino. They have created a sheet with specific recommendations concerning items that must be brought with you and new procedures that will be encountered.

La Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago (ACMS) has posted the following video on YouTube with the “Essentials of the Camino” as we go forward in the age of COVID-19. You can find more information on the ACMS website.

Northern Spain was one of the hardest-hit areas in Europe. We would particularly call your attention to an article in “The Guardian” concerning COVID-19 in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino Francés where the death rate was around 500 per 100,000. (Yes 500. For the U.S. overall this number is about 35.)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/04/spain-la-rioja-small-town-one-of-europes-worst-covid-19-hotspots

The U.S. State Department’s COVID-19 Travel Alert page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province–china.html

U.S. Department of State country by country information:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html

Some official and reliable sources:
• https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
•  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• The World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
• The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china

Spain-specific information sources:
• The Spanish Health System is posting timely announcements in their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SaludPublicaEs
• The Spanish Ministry of Health (Spanish):
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/home.htm
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/situacionActual.htm
• Status of COVID-19 in Spain, including regional details (Spanish):
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/50d6c4c5599a43f4bebf517daa3a97b6
• El Camino con Correos has posted helpful information on their blog: https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/blog/camino-de-santiago-and-covid-19
• “El País in English for current news.

The U.S. Embassy in Spain: https://es.usembassy.gov and then search “coronavirus”.

We suggest doing a general search (e.g., Google) using the keywords <spain coronavirus> and in the result, choosing official and reliable sources.

The WHO recommends following these basic protective measures against the new coronavirus: wash your hands, maintain social distance, wear a mask as is appropriate and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Stay informed to make informed decisions. If you are considering going to Spain, add into your thinking the possibility of contracting COVID-19 while you are in transit or while you are there and then being treated in a very unfamiliar medical setting. What will your medical insurance cover?

This is obviously a story that is developing daily, if not hourly. Stay informed and make informed decisions. Refrain from forwarding unreliably sourced information. Wash your hands – thoroughly and often!

07/25/20

NIAID-RML image of coronavirus
Photo credit: NIAID-RM