Camino de Santiago and Covid-19
The Camino de Santiago is being affected by Covid-19 once again. After months in which pilgrims were able to go back to the Jacobean Routes, this year presents itself full of uncertainty with a new wave of coronavirus hitting Spain.
The EU is considering the introduction of a passport or vaccination certificate for the summer, which would allow mobility for those people who have received immunity to Covid-19. The forecasts point to mid-June as the entry into force of this document, which will be issued in digital or paper format, depending on the holder's preference, and which will contain a QR code with all the key data and the digital signature.
To facilitate travel within the EU, the vaccines that will be accepted are those that have received authorization from the European Medicines Agency. So far these are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen.
The EU member countries have agreed, however, that this certificate will not be a precondition for freedom of movement nor will it be considered a travel document in the strict sense. It should only be used to facilitate the mobility of people vaccinated or those who have overcome the disease.
In Spain, Galicia will be the first community to issue a vaccination certificate. The Servizo Galego de Saúde will begin to issue this document this week which will include the identification of the patient and the technical data of the administered dose, in order to promote the mobility of people in safety conditions.
No mobility between Communities
The Autonomous Communities have agreed to close their territories on the perimeter and establish a curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
What does this decision entail on the Camino de Santiago? The situation practically does not change since since January the perimeter closures have been maintained (it is not possible to enter or leave an autonomous community except in justified cases such as work or medical care), in practically all the autonomous communities.
Regarding international pilgrims, the Government of Spain has decided that a person from another country can enter Spain with a negative PCR carried out 72 hours before. However, once here you will have to abide by state regulations.
This that, it cannot leave the community to which it lands. Of course, once inside that community you have a free way to move through it, unless there is a municipality with restrictions due to the high incidence. For example, foreign pilgrim who travels to Galicia with a negative CRP can move freely and make any of the Jacobean Route through this community.
The Camino de Santiago, within your region
Mobility is expected to be possible within communities, especially those where the virus has managed to stop. Many are the regions that have already decided to eliminate perimeter closures by municipalities or areas, allowing mobility throughout their territory or part of it, as is the case of Castilla y León or Galicia.
Thus, a pilgrim could return to the Camino de Santiago, although only the journey within their community (as long as it does not establish internal mobility limitations).
Reopening of hostels in Galicia
In Galicia, those who legally reside in the community and in those municipalities included in the area of medium restrictions will be able to do the Camino. From March 15, pilgrims will be able to walk all the Roads that pass through Galicia.
From March 12, pilgrims will be able to return to the hostels in Galicia and spend the night in collective dormitories, as long as their occupancy does not exceed 30%.
Given this situation, we remind you that the Paq Mochila will be available during Holy Week in the Ways as it passes through Galicia.
If you decide to do the Camino, from El Camino with Correos we recommend you take extreme concerns, check the restrictions and make sure you have a hostel or hotel space available.
Covid insurance in Galicia
Galicia is already preparing for the future opening of borders. To revitalize tourism and the presence of pilgrims in the middle of the Jacobean year, the Xunta de Galicia will launch a "covid insurance" from the second quarter of the year. This insurance will be applied to those pilgrims who have the bad luck of contracting Covid-19 in Galician territory during their Camino. People who arrive already infected and those who come from places where, originally, it was not advisable to travel to Galicia or Spain will be eligible.
Galician Covid insurance will cover all medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and hospital costs. In the event that it is not necessary to go to the hospital, it will cover the unforeseen expenses that arise to those who must keep quarantine by medical prescription, both of the affected person and of their close contacts.
The maximum coverage will be 30 days and the Xunta de Galicia will allocate a total of 1.2 million for this covid insurance.
State of alarm and curfew in Spain
On October 25th the Government of Spain decreed the State of Alarm throughout the Spanish territory. This decision also implies a mobility restrictions at the following hours: from 11:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m. During these hours no one will be able to move from their homes except for just cause: they will be able to circulate for work or professional reasons; to buy medicines; or for the care of elderly or minors.
Despite the general limitation, the autonomies will have a margin of one hour to define the schedules in the different regions. Thus, they will be able to advance the start at 22.00 - as in Galicia - or delay it at 00.00; and advance the end of the restriction at 05.00 or delay it at 7.00.
The state of alarm and curfew will be in effect until May 9, 2021, but the restrictions could be lifted if the sanitary situation got better during the upcoming months.
Restrictions in Spain
After the rebound in cases at Christmas, the different territories of Spain are imposing different restrictions to try to stop this third contagion curve.
After going through the worst of the so-called "third wave", the different territories of Spain are beginning to relax the harsh restrictions that had to be implemented after Christmas to try to stop this third contagion curve.
International restrictions. Spain imposes a quarantine on travelers from Peru, Colombia and eight African countries. In addition, the Government maintains isolation for up to ten days for people arriving from South Africa and Brazil.
Restrictions across Europe and border closures
The third wave of the coronavirus does not only affect Spain. The coronavirus is spreading across Europe, leading some countries to close their borders. This is the case of Portugal and France, which have decided to prohibit the departure of their inhabitants from the country, with few exceptions such as the transport of goods or the passage of cross-border workers.
This border closure also affects the Camino de Santiago. Although most of the territories of Spain were perimeter, now the prohibition of the passage from one country to another is added. France and Portugal not only close their land borders. Both countries have decided to prevent the movements of their inhabitants also by plane, boat and train. Spain is thus isolated.
France replaced national confinement with a night curfew between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. In addition, all non-essential activity is paralyzed.
Since January 4, the United Kingdom has experienced a general confinement due to the new strain of the coronavirus. Although the vaccination rate is good, the United Kingdom decided this week to limit the movements of its citizens abroad. In fact, Britons going on holiday abroad will face fines of up to £ 5,000 from April. The objective is to prevent a new wave of infections from arriving from Europe. The ban on non-essential travel will be extended to May or June.
The situation is worrying in Germany, a country that has decided to stop a possible de-escalation after announcing a new strict confinement this Easter.
In Italy it has again decreed home confinement in the country. The Italian government has decreed a new closure until after Easter, by which citizens can only go out to work or urgent needs (shopping, medical visit ...).
In the Netherlands, the population will be confined.
In view of the situation, from the Camino con Correos we recommend not doing the Camino de Santiago these days, given the complicated situation caused by Covid-19 and the diversity of restrictions according to territories. However, we leave you some tips in case you want to organize your Camino in future dates.
Tips for planning the Camino
From El Camino con Correos we suggest that be alert when it comes to safety measures and restrictions adopted by the different territories. For those who are planning the Camino de Santiago, here are some keys to do it safely.
1. Booking at albergues on the Camino
One of the changes derived from this ‘new normal’ after Covid-19 is the recommendation to book ahead a place at albergues or other types of accommodation to spend the night on the Camino. That will ensure that the pilgrims finds availble spots and open accommodation.
This year part of the accommodation along the Camino may not be open, and most will have a bed limit, so we suggest making sure beforehand of the places where we want to spend the night. You can find a list with over 4.000 albergues, hotels and hostels on our website, with phone numbers and e-mail addresses so you can plan ahead.
Also, the Xunta de Galicia has created a website (https://alberguesxacobeo.gal/) where you can check availability and book a place at public albergues. There is a phone number, as well: (+34) 881 250 888.
It should be noted that only 50% of the spots will be available compared to what the have offered other years, since they have had to adapt to the new security and hygiene rules: limiting space, equipment, public spaces… According to the Consellería, pilgrims will now be able to book a reservation from the day before to 1pm. of the same day. From then, if there are remaining spots, they will be available for pilgrims who arrive without reservation.
Meanwhile, the Asociación de Albergues Privados de Galicia (Agalber) has created a map and listing of all all albergues that will be available throughout the different Caminos during the winter months. You can check it out here.
The Red de Albergues del Camino has also updated its website with information about open albergues this summer. They also have an APP that you can download if you want to have that information on hand.
Pilgrims who choose the Camino Francés will be able to find out in real time the free places in the hostels. It will be possible thanks to the LOT Hostels initiative, promoted by the Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago (AMCS) in collaboration with the Government of Navarra, Aragón, La Rioja, Castilla y León and the Galician Association of Private Hostels (Agalber).
The Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago has also launched July 1st their “Albergues Seguros” (“Safe Albergues”) campaign, assisting and giving advise to the network of traditional and municipal albergues about the sanitary requirements that have arised since Covid-19. For this campaign, in which Correos has also collaborated, a series of posters has been ellaborated, that can be found throughout their network of albergues, with all the suggestions that will make the albergues a safe place.
Besides, they have also created an interactive map with the location and contact of the Network of Safe Albergues that can be found on their website: https://www.amcsantiago.com/. This map is updated weekly including all available albergues.
On Aprinca's website there is also a list of albergues that will be open on the Camino Francés between the months of November and February. You can check it out here.
2. Rucksack transfer on the Camino
Correos has also put in place the backpack and suitcase transportation service from stage to stage on the Camino. Our Paq Mochila is available on from Sarria to Santiago until 1st of May, with all safety measures. Our delivery staff has received training in Covid-19 and we give them daily IPE needed to ensure a safe delivery: FFP2 masks, hydroalcoholic gel, disinfectant for the vehicles…
During Holy Week (from March 27 to April 4) in all the Caminos as it passes through Galicia. From May 1 to October, the Backpack pack will be available in the usual Caminos.
We also have an online form available for pilgrims (www.paqmochila.com) so they can book their reservation and pay safely via credit card or PayPal, avoiding cash.
Pilgrims also have access to other Correos’ services on the Camino such as the Paq Bicicleta for bycicle transportation to and from the Camino, luggage storage to leave their things when in Santiago or the Paq Peregrino, to send suitcases, backpacks and packages to the over 150 post offices throughout the Camino.
3. Visits to the Cathedral of Santiago
The Cathedral of Santiago reopened its doors on December 30, 2020. With the arrival of Xacobeo 2021 and the celebration of the 120th Compostela Holy Year in its history, the Cathedral will once again wear its best clothes.
After the restoration works, the Compostela temple can be visited from 9am to 8.30pm.
4. Pilgrim’s mass
The pilgrim's mass returns to the Cathedral of Santiago. Every day is celebrated in two hours: 12:00 and 7:30 pm.
5. Obtaining the Compostela
The Pilgrim’s Reception Office, the place in Rúa Carretas where the Compostela is obtained, will be open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm.
During that time pilgrims can visit the centre and request the Compostela after certifying finishing the Camino by showing the Credential.
The procedure for collecting the Compostela has undergone slight variations to guarantee the safety of the pilgrims and the staff of the center itself. We detail the steps to follow:
- Pre-registration. Before going to the Pilgrim's Office, a pre-registration must be made on the website www.oficinadelperegrino.com indicating all the information that is requested to certify the pilgrimage to Santiago (name, Camino made, starting point ...).
- Take a turn. Once at the Pilgrim's Office you must withdraw the ticket with your turn.
- Check the queue. Check the QR code that appears on your ticket, which will indicate the approximate time you can pick up your Compostela. This way you will know what time you have to report, which will allow you to avoid long waits as well as causing crowds at the Office.
- Pick up your Compostela. Go to the Pilgrim's Office at the indicated time and collect your Compostela
You can also find our post office at the Pilgrim’s Office where you can send your bycicles, suitcases, etc. or buy stamps, cards and souvenirs.
6. Thinking about the Xacobeo 2021 - 2022
Many of you are pilgrims who ask us about Xacobeo 2021 - 2022. After eleven years without celebrating a Holy Year, this 2021 will be a very important year for the Camino de Santiago and the Jacobean community. If you want to know more about the Xacobeo and the Holy Year, here are some curiosities.
We have twelve months to enjoy this unique date in which, of course, we must continue to take extreme precautions and respect the hygienic-sanitary measures that are established at all times.
Looking ahead to the next Holy Year, the Cathedral of Santiago and the Xunta de Galicia have announced that the Pilgrim's Digital Credential will come into operation. The online certificate will coexist with the traditional paper Credential and will allow you to collect the necessary stamps to obtain the Compostela through QR codes. You can read more about its future operation here.
With the launch of the Digital Credential during the Xacobeo 2021, it seeks to guarantee a safer Camino de Santiago against Covid-19, avoiding the greatest number of contacts between pilgrims and hospitaleros.
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