COVID-19 Camino updates 30th July On July 27th, El País recorded a daily average of 25,617 cases nationwide, down by 6% compared to the previous week. 976 of them have resulted in hospitalisation (3.8% of cases) and 25 have passed away (0.1% of cases). The worst hit regions of Spain are still Cataluña, Castilla-y-León and Navarra, but have now been joined by the Balearics. However, Cataluña and Castilla-y-León have managed to slightly reduce their case rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 2 weeks from 1,326 to 1,202 and 923 to 843, respectively. Navarra is now up to 995 and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza etc.) are up to 1,035. Galicia is now up to 699 cases per 100,000 in the last fortnight. Despite last week's encouraging figures on vaccination, El País is now reporting that only 66.6% of Spaniards have received their first dose and 56.3% have had their second. 1,477 pilgrims were counted at Santiago Pilgrim Office yesterday. The totals for the month of July (likely to be much higher than previous months due to St James's Day) will be released in the next few days on their website. The UK government have announced that any double-vaccinated travellers from the US and EU (except France) to Britain will not have to self-isolate upon arrival from Monday. You are still required to provide proof of either a negative Covid test from the last 48 hours, or proof of double vaccination upon arrival in Spain, as well a completed Health Form. If you're double vaccinated, you must still take another negative test on day 2 of your return to the UK, but you don't have to take a day 8 test or quarantine. 23rd July Like last week, the figures for infection have rocketed again, although predominantly in the younger age groups. The worst hit regions of Spain are now Cataluña at 1,326 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks, as well as Castilla-y-León and Navarra both at 923. Galicia is now up to 485. On the 19th July, El País recorded a daily average of 27,247 cases nationwide, up by 7,000 compared to last week. 2.4% of these were hospitalised. And 0.05% resulted in death. So it seems the soaring number of cases is driving up the pressure on intensive care units in the country, possibly amongst the unvaccinated youth, but the fatality rate remains low. 72% of Spaniards have now had their first vaccination dose. And 60% are fully vaccinated. Numbers of pilgrims getting their Compostelas remains above 1,000 each day. For comparison in 2019, the daily average of pilgrims being counted in July was around 1,720. We anticipate these numbers spiking over the St James's Day weekend. This weekend, there will be concerts taking place in Santiago at the Plaza Obradoiro and the Plaza de la Quintana, with hundreds of people expected to attend each. Reports say that all accommodation in the city is booked up! You can watch the live stream of the services happening at Santiago Cathedral over the weekend here - crtvg.gal A very happy St James's Day to all! 16th July In a nutshell, cases of Coronavirus in Spain have multiplied in recent weeks. But the vaccines do seem to be doing their job. On the 25th June, El País recorded a daily average of 3,473 cases nationwide - 5% of which were hospitalised and 0.5% of which passed away. On the 14th July, the daily average of cases hit 20,497. But only 0.02% of these were hospitalised and 0.0005% sadly lost their lives. 60.6% of the Spanish population have now had their first vaccine dose, and 48.4% are fully vaccinated. More than 1,000 pilgrims are now receiving their Compostelas each day. It will be important to monitor this 5th wave over the coming weeks. Case numbers are rocketing at the moment, and it will place strain on health services, and could possibly prompt temporary regional closures. But hopefully the vaccines will continue to lessen the proportion of citizens and pilgrims who suffer badly from the disease. - - 8th July addition - - It has been confirmed that from the 19th July, UK residents who have been double vaccinated for at least 14 days can travel to Amber list countries without quarantining on the way back. This currently just applies to England. But you’ll still need a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day 2 of your return. 7th July Two weeks ago, Cataluña was the only autonomous community left with a case rate of over 200 per 100,000 inhabitants reported in the previous 14 days. Unfortunately, since the Delta variant has made its way to Europe and Spain has relaxed its rules on wearing masks in public, the downward trend we have been seeing in the last few months has now markedly reversed. Here are some statistics from El País with current case rates for the worst-hit regions: Cataluña - 463 per 100k Cantabria - 305 per 100k Navarra - 244 per 100k Castilla y León - 239 per 100k Comunidad Valenciana - 213 per 100k Andalucía - 208 per 100k At the moment, the death rate is still extremely low, with one fatality reported in the Basque Country and one in Aragón in the last 14 days. Hospitalisations, too, are in the single digits for almost all regions, apart from the Basque Country with 10 reported instances in the last two weeks. We only hope that the effects of this surge in cases are alleviated by vaccination efforts. Now over 56% of Spaniards have received their first dose, and 41% have had both. The UK is set to lift almost all its Covid restrictions on Monday 19th July, pending a final "go" decision to be announced on the 12th. The traffic light system for international travel, however, would remain in place. There have been suggestions that those who have been double-vaccinated will not have to self-isolate upon return to the UK from an Amber-listed country, but this has not been confirmed. 2nd July After the most recent government review, Spain remains on the UK's Amber list of countries to travel to. This means a recent negative PCR test is required upon departure - except if you have received both vaccination doses. And upon return, self-isolation for 10 days and two PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 are required for all, even if you are fully vaccinated. At the moment, Spain doesn't require UK tourists to take a PCR test or self-isolate. But there have been calls from elsewhere in the EU to require Brits to quarantine when travelling to Europe. Indeed, UK tourists have been banned from travelling to Germany since May. The number of daily cases is beginning to spike again in Spain, as with many countries in Europe who are feeling the effects of the Delta Variant. According to www.worldometers.info , the usual daily figures of 2,000-4,000 new daily cases in Spain has shot up to more than 12,000 recorded for the 1st of July. At the moment, the statistics on deaths look to be stable, but we wait to see the knock-on effect of the increase in cases over the last few days. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have been hospitalised. Santiago Pilgrim Office have published their statistics for June, which you can view here. Here are some of the highlights: A total of 14,825 pilgrims received their Compostelas last month. That's compared to 4,295 in May. And 977 in April. And 194 in March. But in June 2019, this figure was 49,058. 70% of those from last month were Spanish. Another 12% were Portuguese. Around 440 from Italy, 424 from Germany, 362 from France, and interestingly 162 from the USA. Just 72 Brits were counted. The most common start points were Sarria (32%), Tui (10%), Porto (5%), and Ferrol (5%). Only 2% started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. 24th June The Spanish government has begun to relax its rules on mask-wearing in public. Around 45% of the national population has now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The infection rate continues to fall in Spain, with the exception of Cataluna who still over 200 reported cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks. Galicia now has the lowest incidence rate in mainland Spain, with just 44 reported cases per 100,000 in habitants in the fortnight up to 22nd June. News is spreading that tourists may enter Spain without needing any Covid tests, if you can produce proof of having received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. This includes those from the UK. For entry back into the UK, however, negative tests are still required on or before day 2 and day 8 for Amber List countries. An update on the traffic light system that shapes rules on quarantine and Covid tests for those returning to the UK is expected this afternoon. See here for the latest information. 18th June 516 pilgrims were counted at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago yesterday. One of the highest totals of the year so far. The highest number of cases is now in Cataluna, with Andalucía and La Rioja with the next highest infection rates, according to information from El País. The Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. is reported to have confirmed that US tourists are able to travel to Spain as long as they can provide proof of having received both vaccination doses. For UK travellers, Spain, Portugal and France remain on the amber list. See below for a table showing the restrictions for this. France has now lifted its curfew and is allowing tourists to enter from other countries in the EU, but still not the UK. 11th June Santiago Pilgrim Office is now granting a few hundred Compostelas each day. Still very few compared to normal standards, especially in a Holy Year, but a big increase on recent weeks. The number of Covid-19 cases is generally reducing throughout the country. According to El País data, the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 inhabitants are in La Rioja, Andalucía and the Basque Country, whilst the lowest are in the Balearics, Comunidad Valenciana and Galicia. 25% of all Spaniards are now fully vaccinated. And around 44% of the population have received one dose. Reports from pilgrims say that they are managing to find accommodation, though many places remain closed. Spain, Portugal and France all remain on the UK's Amber List - meaning tourists shouldn't be travelling there. These restrictions will be reviewed in another two weeks by the UK government. 4th June Portugal has now been removed from the UK's "green list". This means tourists are advised not to travel there, the same as for Spain and France. The lists are due to be reviewed every couple of weeks. Santiago Pilgrim Office have released their pilgrim statistics for May. In April, we saw 977 pilgrims get their Compostelas. Last month, this went up to 4,295. This sounds like a lot, but in May 2019 this figure was 46,673. Three quarters of last month's pilgrims were Spanish. The next most represented countries were, predictably, Portugal, Germany, Italy and France. 19 pilgrims were from the UK. Around 1,300 of the total started in Sarria - by far the most popular start point. The second was Ferrol with 334 pilgrims starting their Camino from there, and third was Tui with 272. But 67 people started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. 53% followed the Camino Francés. The other most popular routes were the Portugués, Inglés and Primitivo. Of the 4,295 - there were just 15 more men than women. 28th May Numbers of pilgrims are now much higher than they were, but still only a fraction of what would be expected in a normal year, let alone a Holy Year. Yesterday (27th May) over 300 pilgrims were given Compostelas at Santiago Pilgrim Office. The statistics for the month of May should be released by the end of next week. However, so far well over 2,000 pilgrims have been counted at the Pilgrim Office this month. That's compared to fewer than 200 in March this year. But also over 46,500 in May 2019. Even though the regional borders are all open at the moment, there are particular municipalities where Covid cases remain high, which have stayed locked down. Padrón on the Camino Portugués was one of them, but their numbers are now looking much better. 24th May Despite the recent relaxation of restrictions in Spain, the national figures for infections appear to continue declining thanks to increased vaccination rates. As of today, around 1 in every 650 people in Spain have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last two weeks. And the demand on intensive care units in hospitals is a lot less than what it was, since the older age groups have now received at least one, if not two, of their jabs. In total, 35% of all Spaniards so far. The President of Spain has announced that by the 18th August, 70% of the Spanish population will be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Spanish President has said that from today, UK tourists are welcome in Spain and do not need to quarantine upon or even taking a Covid test upon arrival. They do have to complete a Health Control Form. But this seems to allow only for travellers arriving by air. However, the UK government has placed Spain on its "Amber" list of countries meaning that UK tourists should not travel there unless under exceptional circumstances. You will still be required to take a test before departure from the UK, as well as another two tests on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, self-isolate at home or in the place you're staying for 10 days and complete a passenger locator form. Each PCR test costs in excess of £100. Before leaving the UK Upon arrival in Spain Upon return to the UK Take a negative PCR test Complete a Health Control Form Quarantine for 10 days at home or in the place you're staying Fill in a passenger locator form Take a negative PCR test on or before day 2 Take another PCR test on or after day 8 The UK Government website has speculated a few potential extra requirements for UK travellers related to Brexit. See our Brexit Summary Guidelines page for more detail. For pilgrims from the US and Canada, the Spanish government has announced that you will be welcome in Spain from 7th June. The requirements are that you must demonstrate proof of having had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, the 2nd of which must be at least two weeks before your arrival in Spain, with the exception of under 18-year olds. Private hotels are beginning to open back up, although municipal albergues seem to remain closed until pilgrim numbers increase. 13th May The state of emergency in Spain has now come to an end. This means that the central government no longer have the special powers to impose restrictions on things like movement. As such, all regional borders are now technically open in Spain. This means, in theory, that one could move freely between them, including to and from Portugal. Some regions are calling to have their borders closed again due to continuing high levels of infection in their areas. The Basque Parliament have requested to the Basque High Court to keep their borders closed. Their request was denied. It remains to be seen as to whether other regions do close their borders again successfully. In addition, some regions have kept some of their municipalities where there is a higher contamination rate closed to outsiders. For example, the municipality of Padrón in Galicia (on the Camino Portugués) remains closed meaning you should not walk through - or if you do, you should not stop there. The rate of vaccination in Spain is speeding up - citizens 59 years old and above are now being invited for their first jabs. The "4th wave" of Covid cases nationally seems to have passed its peak. However, the effects of the recent opening up of movement are yet to be seen. And restrictions could tighten again depending on the decisions taken by regional governments and their high courts. 7th May The final figures for April are in from Santiago Pilgrim Office! The total number of pilgrims awarded Compostela certificates last month was 977. Back in 2019, this monthly total was over 7,500. 80% of last month's pilgrims were Spaniards. And of the 977, 666 were local to Galicia. 97% were on foot, but there were 24 cyclists and even a couple of horseriders! The most popular start point was Sarria, with 268 pilgrims setting off from there. Interesting given that Sarria is not in Galicia - so these pilgrims will have crossed in Galicia illegally. And there were even 17 that started from Oporto in Portugal and 10 from Pamplona! Some 500 others stuck to the rules and started from inside Galicia. The border with Portugal has technically opened, however the Galician border has not. Therefore, passage between the two remains prohibited. This Sunday, the national state of emergency which allows the central government special powers to impose restrictions on movement and hospitality, comes to an end. However, some regions have been requesting that their regional borders remain closed in order to keep their populations protected. The Basque Country, for example, is experiencing a very high number of cases in comparison with other areas of Spain. Following the Spanish elections this week, as well as the end of the state of emergency on the 9th, more announcements about opening up and international travel are expected in the coming days. For Brits, an announcement about a traffic light system for travel to individual countries is expected later today. 30th April Restrictions remain unchanged in Spain for the moment. It is still prohibited to cross regional borders unless for essential reasons. In addition to the map of restrictions released by the AMCS last week (see below), they have announced they will be re-releasing their map of albergues that are open on the Camino Francés. This will be interactive and updated every day. This map was live for a portion of last year, but was deactivated over the winter when almost all albergues closed. They hope to publish this in early May. Pilgrims from the Schengen area are still allowed to fly into Spain with proof of a negative PCR test, but cannot leave the region they flew into. So there are some pilgrims walking the Camino into Santiago from places like O Cebreiro, Ferrol, A Coruna, Tui and Lugo. But still very low numbers are being counted at the Pilgrim Office. We should have their April statistics next week. The question of accommodation is still very much up in the air. Albergues are allowed to be open at a reduced capacity, but with such low numbers of pilgrims, many have decided to remain closed for the time being. Good places to check are Gronze.com and Booking.com. The New York Times published an article saying that vaccinated tourists from the United States may be able to travel to the EU from the summer. No specific dates have been given. 22nd April The normal daily average of pilgrims being granted Compostelas at this time of year is around 1,000. And apart from the surge at Easter, only a dozen are coming in each day at the moment due to Galicia's closed borders and limited number of international flights in operation. The Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago has released a new map, which is to be updated regularly, showing the restrictions in place along the entire Camino Francés. The map makes it clear that it is simply not possible to do the entire Camino route right now where movement between the vast majority of municipalities is prohibited. Over time of course, we hope that gradually the borders and municipalities will light up. It is still impossible to determine when this might begin. For pilgrims who are wondering how they can help support hospitality businesses along the Camino, Sybille Yates has today updated her list of albergues you can donate to on her website. 16th April On the 9th of May, the state of emergency in Spain will be lifted. Having been in place since November 2020, it has given the government special powers to restrict movement of the population. Once it ends in just under a month's time, it will be very difficult to re-invoke such a state, meaning that they will not have the same ability to enforce the closure of regional borders and stop people from travelling freely around the country. This would make it possible, then, to walk longer Camino routes that traverse multiple regional boundaries. It has been announced that the Pórtico de la Gloria, the ancient and recently restored stone-carved doorway in Santiago Cathedral, will reopen for visitors before the end of April. Despite the increased (and illegal) movement over Easter, case numbers have raised slightly nationally. But in Galicia, the increase has been small enough for the local health services to have managed fine. Around 17% of Spaniards have received their 1st vaccine, and just 7% have received both doses. Use of the Janssen vaccine has been suspended due to the widespread concern over blood clot risks. 9th April The pilgrim statistics are in for March...and April! Santiago Pilgrim Office are, for the first time, also publishing their statistics for the current month on their website. In March, a total of 194 compostelas were given out. 155 of those were Spaniards. The rest making up 17 other countries. At least 161 of the total pilgrims started in Galicia. In April, however, so far there have been a staggering 575 pilgrims collecting their compostelas from the Pilgrim Office! 272 of those arrived on Easter Sunday! Of the total, 500 are Spanish, with 20 from the USA, 16 from Germany and the others from over 17 other countries including China and India. At least 94% of the total started from inside Galicia's borders. Restrictions remained unchanged over Easter - although there was more movement as people travelled to see their families. The effects of this are yet to be fully seen, but the overall number of new infections daily in Spain nationally has risen slightly in the last week. It is now national law for everyone to wear masks in public places. Santiago airport will be offering antigen tests for travellers. Depending on your country's regulations, you can use this to return home. Although if you're required to pass a PCR test, you will need to go elsewhere. 1st April A new month, but little change in restrictions for locals. However, the big story in Santiago this week is that from April onwards, international flights are scheduled to arrive into three of Galicia's airports, which would allow foreigners to come to the region (with a negative Covid test). This has caused dissent locally, as this would in theory permit pilgrims to fly into Galicia from other countries in Europe to walk from O Cebreiro, Ferrol, Vigo or other Camino starting points in Galicia to Santiago - before any Spaniards living outside the region can come to visit their families. The vaccine rollout remains very slow. Around 70% of the 80+ age group have now received their first vaccination. The government's target for this for March was 80%. Our pilgrim refuge at Rabanal del Camino has taken the painful decision to remain closed for the 2021 season, barring any major breakthroughs. This was believed to be in the best interest of the volunteers who staff the albergue who come from all over the world. Refugio Gaucelmo are, however, very sad to be closed for a 2nd year and a Holy Year, at that. The CSJ's second hostel, Albergue San Martín in Miraz, continue to monitor their situation. 26th March Restrictions on movement remain the same this week: you can travel within your own region's borders but not beyond. This looks like this will be the case over Easter as well. A small handful of pilgrims have received their Compostelas this week, having walked from other places in Galicia. Around 10% of the population have been vaccinated. An online conference was held by the Spanish organisations responsible for the Camino last weekend. Here's what we learned: Whenever pilgrims can return the Camino - that is, it's permissible both to leave their home country and enter Spain (or France or Portugal), and they meet the specified requirements at both ends - they will have to book their accommodation in advance in order to help regulate social distancing restrictions. All visitors to Galicia will be insured for all treatment related to COVID including hospitalisation and medicines. This has not been confirmed for other regions. If repatriation is required the costs will be covered up to €15,000 but the claimant will need to pay €500. If you're diagnosed while you're in Galicia, and need to self-isolate immediately, your accommodation costs will be covered. Also your family or dependents' accommodation costs will be covered if you're in self-isolation or hospital. The finer details of how all this will work are not yet clear. More information will be made available as things open up. 19th March According to Reuters, Spain has had 72 infections per 100,000 people reported in the last 7 days, just 13% of the country's peak recorded at the end of January. Nationally, around 6.4% of the population have received vaccinations. However, according to Spain's Health Minister Carolina Darias, 4.8 million doses are due to arrive in April from Janssen, part of the Johnson & Johnson group, whose vaccine only requires one dose for full protection against Covid-19. Between April and June, 30 million more doses are forecast to arrive - 2.3 million doses per week. Municipal albergues in the region of Galicia have now reopened but at 30% of their normal capacity for pilgrims who are walking into Santiago from other places in Galicia. 12th March The rate of descent in the number of Covid cases and hospitalisations look as if it is beginning to slow, after a week and a half of freer movement between provinces and partially opening up the economy. Despite the return of university students in Santiago, social gatherings and nightlife remains minimal in accordance with the 10pm curfew, which remains in force. Restaurants and bars also have to close at 6pm. For the time being, residents can move freely around the region of Galicia but cannot leave unless for an essential reason. Depending on data, this may remain the case over Easter. You can see the status of restrictions for all regions in Spain here. Pilgrim Office statistics have been released for February. A total of 14 pilgrims got their Compostelas/Certificados. 4 Spanish, 4 French, 3 Czech, 1 Colombian, 1 Italian and 1 Swiss. 12 of them on foot, 2 by bike. 4 started in Sarria, 3 from Lisbon, 2 from Oviedo, 1 from the Czech Republic, 1 from O Cebreiro, 1 from "France", 1 from Le Puy and 1 from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. All of these were below the age of 60. 5th March Some areas, including Santiago, are slowly opening up again as they emerge from their "3rd wave". This means that restaurants can open, with limited capacity, both inside and outside. And residents can now move freely around the whole region of Galicia, though not beyond. This week, Santiago Cathedral began holding its pilgrim masses twice daily. There is talk of another short-term lockdown over the Easter holidays, in order to suppress any potential "4th wave" that may arise as a result of travelling and socialising around that time. The vaccine rollout in Spain continues to move slowly. However, supplies are looking to increase in the near future, hopefully speeding up the rate of vaccination among the top priority groups, starting with over 80 year-olds. 25th February Anti-vaccination protests in Santiago last weekend remained peaceful, to the relief of local residents. Infection rates and hospitalisations continue to fall. However the vaccine rollout remains extremely slow. Around 4% of the national population have received their 1st doses. Movement in and out of Santiago is still prohibited. However, should cases continue to drop, there is the possibility of freeing up movement between neighbouring municipalities as long as they are at the same level of restrictions. Due to the closure, there are no pilgrims arriving into Santiago. The possibility of a Spring Camino is looking unlikely at this stage. 19th February New restrictions for Galicia came into force on the 17th and will remain in place until 3rd March. Businesses are now allowed to reopen at their normal hours but capacity is limited to 50%. Restaurants and bars remain closed except for takeaway. Meeting with anyone outside your own household is still prohibited. There are still perimeter closures between municipalities. However, universities will reopen from 1st March and schools are open as usual This is not the same everywhere in Spain - each of the 17 autonomous communities have their own restrictions in place. But most have some variation of regional or municipal closure. The rollout of vaccinations in Spain remains very slow. There is a planned anti-vaccination protest to take place in Santiago this weekend, as well as a counter protest. Our best wishes to our friends there. 12th February Spain seem to be over the crest of their most recent COVID wave. For the moment, the restrictions on movement and social gatherings remain in place. But there is now a hope that they will start being lifted soon. The Pilgrim Office in Santiago remains open, but with virtually no pilgrims for some weeks due to the perimeter lockdown in the city. 5th February Restrictions are now in place for anyone moving between consellos (townships) in Galicia. That is, if a resident of Santiago were to leave the city, they would be liable for a heavy fine. Likewise, for anyone entering the city from outside. Therefore, there are no pilgrims arriving at present. This will remain the case until at least the 17th February, when rules will be reviewed once more. However, it's been revealed that during January 2021, 60 pilgrims got their Compostelas. 27 of these were Spanish, but some were German, Portuguese, Dutch, French and others. There was even a pilgrim from Korea, Brasil and two from the United States! We know that the starting points of these 60 pilgrims varied greatly from the common 100km points like Sarria, Tui, Ferrol, Vigo and Valenca do Minho, to Seville, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Germany. Unlike the usually fairly even gender split, two thirds of these pilgrims were male. The Xunta de Galicia's department for the Holy Year(s) Programme, Xacobeo 21, have released a report outlining plans for two mobile apps they plan to launch in order to support pilgrims through COVID, when they are allowed to return to the Camino. This is part of their "Camino Seguro" (Safe Camino) programme to promote COVID-safe pilgrimage in Galicia. Radar COVID will be an app to advise you, anonymously, if you've come into contact with someone infected with COVID in the last 14 days. PassCOVID will be an accompanying app to Radar, where you'll also be able to check the up-to-date local restrictions. With Radar, it will also communicate to others if you've had a positive COVID diagnosis. 28th January A small handful of pilgrims have still been walking into Santiago, despite the local restrictions prohibiting this. From yesterday (Wednesday 27th January), stricter rules on movement in and out of Galicia are being enforced. Locals are now not able to move between consellos (townships). The 6pm curfew on non-essential businesses has resulted in the closure of many restaurants and hostels. The number of infections, hospital admissions and deaths is now worse than in the first wave of the virus in March 2020. Currently, about 2% of the Spanish population have received a COVID vaccination. Therefore, it is not looking promising that pilgrims will be able to return by Spring. 22nd January The Pilgrim Office has unveiled their special commemorative Holy Year Credencial. This will be available from the CSJ in the coming weeks. Santiago and Galicia remain in a state of lockdown. Very few, if any, pilgrims are arriving each day. Currently there is a low supply of vaccines available in Spain. At the time of writing, official estimations indicated that people over the age of 80 would not receive their vaccinations until March. By this time frame, pilgrims with plans to return to the Camino in Spring are being cautioned that this may be problematic and that they should push back their plans further if they can. 15th January Cases and deaths from COVID-19 are soaring in Spain, as was anticipated after the busy holiday season. Many Spaniards are being told to go into voluntary lockdown, working from home as much as possible and only leaving their houses if absolutely essential. Still, there are one or two pilgrims arriving at the Pilgrim Office each day. These are most likely local people, who have stayed in their own homes and done the walk over separate days. In the whole of December, just 99 pilgrims were counted at the Pilgrim Office. Half of these were Spaniards. The most popular starting point was Porto (21 pilgrims), followed by La Gudina on the Via de la Plata, close to the Galician border (12 pilgrims), followed by Sarria (10 pilgrims). 1 pilgrim had started in St Jean, 1 in Vézelay and 1 in Belgium. For comparison, in December 2019, a total of 2,710 were counted. The widespread economic effects of the pandemic are beginning to manifest, with marked increases in household bills for electricity, gas and broadband. 7th January The Camino remains in a state of semi-hibernation during these winter months when restrictions on movement remain tight. There were relaxations over New Year and Epiphany (Día de los Reyes Magos) and further announcements are expected in the coming days with the rules on travel in each region. For a breakdown of the situation in each autonomous community, see this article in El País newspaper online. However, for UK residents and nationals, travel abroad remains illegal except for essential purposes. For up-to-date and country-specific Government travel advice, see the following pages: Spain travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) France travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Portugal travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 18th December The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has jumped for the first time in weeks, after a relaxation of restrictions. Many regions will see a tightening of regulations for residents and businesses, with movement between provinces made more difficult. Nonetheless, it is anticipated that many Spaniards will travel to be with their families over the Christmas period, likely triggering a post-Christmas wave of infections and implementation of further restrictions. Santiago City Council are going ahead with their plans for Christmas services in the churches of San Francisco and Santa María Salomé. From the 30th December onwards, the Cathedral will reopen for masses and processions to the Cathedral's Holy Door, which will open on New Years Eve for Holy Year. 11th December There are now almost no pilgrims arriving at Santiago Pilgrim Office. 586 pilgrims were counted there in November, compared to 8,274 for November 2019. Spanish, French and Italian accounted for more than last month's total. There were just 25 UK pilgrims counted. 70% of those counted last month had followed the Camino Francés. Interestingly the most common starting places for those arriving in November were Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Le Puy, Pamplona and Roncesvalles. With the rate of confirmed cases of Covid-19 at its lowest level since August, restrictions are easing slightly, depending on the region. More services are allowed to open, and movement between regions is easier. The authorities are concerned for the coming holiday period, when millions of Spaniards are expected to travel and mix households to be with their families. The Spanish Tourism website is updating this page with advice for incoming passengers. Once the terms of a deal, or no deal, are confirmed for Brexit, the CSJ will put together a guideline for pilgrims to help understand the new requirements for travelling and insurance. 3rd December From this Friday, restrictions will begin to ease in Spain. Bars and restaurants will be able to open again and regions will start to re-open their borders. Very few pilgrims are collecting Compostelas from Santiago now, just a handful a day. Most of those who are finishing now have been walking for months and started back in France or beyond. 12th November The word from Santiago is that there is now a "perimetral confinement", meaning non-essential travel in and out of the area is prohibited, with an exception for pilgrims who started their Camino before 30th October. They are allowed to enter Santiago, get a Compostela but are not able to visit Finisterre or Muxía - they are told to travel home. The nightly curfew from 11pm to 6am continues, as does the restriction on bars, cafes and restaurants to offer takeaway or home delivery services. Sybille Yates continues to update her site on the situation in Santiago. She writes "Whilst the Camino isn’t officially closed, the travel restrictions and insecure accommodation situation make a pilgrimage very difficult, if not impossible, at these times." See the rest of her updates here. 29th October A state of emergency has been declared across Spain. This means that there is a nationwide curfew from 11pm-6am, although individual autonomous regions can move the curfew by plus or minus an hour if the local government choose. They also have the power to tighten their own local restrictions, including closing their own borders. Aragón and Asturias are two of the regions who have closed their regional borders. This lockdown has been confirmed for the next fortnight, but if the situation does not improve in the near future, there is a plan to extend the state of emergency until May 2021! In Santiago, people cannot meet with anyone outside of their own household. And restaurants, cafes and bars can only serve outside. 22nd October More areas on the Camino have now gone into lockdown. This means that non-essential travel through these areas is restricted. This includes: Navarra, Burgos, Salamanca and Ourense (in addition to León and Madrid). Depending on the locality, pilgrims may or may not be allowed to walk or cycle through, without stopping. Some places like León are offering a free shuttle bus from Mansilla de la Mulas to Virgen del Camino. For a full summary, visit the website of Egeria House run by Sybille Yates. 15th October Santiago has now moved into the level 3 of the Spanish Coronavirus area alert system. Therefore, further restrictions will be put in place for the city, though a local lockdown is looking very unlikely. These restrictions are yet to be finalised and announced. The Spanish Federation of Associations of St James has issued a notice of reassurance to other pilgrim associations around the world, saying their new Digital Credencial which will be introduced for the Holy Year will not change the way that paper credenciales currently work. Indeed, the current system of collecting stamps in pilgrim passports will continue as it always has done. The digital version will be a new feature for those who want to use it, with the timely benefit of decreased potential for spreading the virus and greater tracking capability for pilgrims. 8th October This week it was announced that Madrid, León and Palencia would be going into full lockdown because of an uptick in confirmed cases. The Spanish Government have now stipulated that if any of the following statements is true for a given area, it will also go into lockdown for 14 days: There are more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants The positivity rate of Covid tests is more than 10% The occupancy of emergency rooms is higher than 35% The statistics for September have been released by the Pilgrim Office in Santiago. A total of 10,441 were counted, far less than the 19,812 of August. About 70% of these were Spanish, with the rest predominantly from Europe, including 136 Brits! 89% were on foot, although there were over 1,000 cyclists, 13 horseback riders and 3 wheelchair users. About a quarter of the total number had started in Sarria. Tui, Porto, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Ferrol and Oviedo were the next most popular start points. More than half of the total had travelled the Camino Francés, and about a fifth on the Camino Portugués. The rest came via the Norte, Primitivo, Inglés and others. You can see more figures on the Pilgrim Office website. 1st October A new Digital Credencial is being launched for Holy Year (2021), which pilgrims will be able to download via an app on their smartphones. Pilgrims will be able to record their route just as they would in a paper credencial, but instead of collecting stamps, they can scan QR codes which will be stored on the app. The tool has been developed by Santiago Cathedral and the Galicia Tourist Board to help manage the process of awarding large numbers of Compostela certificates more easily, reducing queue times at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago. Camino establishments with pilgrim stamps will be able to digitise their chosen image through the project's new website, which will then appear in the pilgrim's app once they scan. The project was developed before the pandemic, in anticipation of the surge in pilgrim numbers expected in Holy Year. But the new scheme will also reduce the amount of physical contact involved in obtaining a pilgrim stamp - which will help reduce the spread of the virus. The new Digital Credencial is not mandatory - pilgrims will still be able to carry paper credenciales and collect physical stamps should they not wish to participate. 17th September We’re making a couple of changes to our regular Zoom meetings! From the week commencing 21st September: our Virtual Albergues will move to Wednesdays at 5:00pmBST. our Thursday Zoom Coffee Mornings will begin at 10:30amBST. The local government of La Rioja has announced that only people that live together can be in the same room or dormitory, and that albergues are reduced to a maximum 40% capacity, meaning even fewer beds available. We continue to receive updates from pilgrims on the Camino at the moment, on a variety of routes. Our new guide to the St James Way is now available here from our online shop. We are looking forward to our online lecture from Dr Andrew Breeze, of the University of Navarre on the subject of Welsh Pilgrims: Past and Present. Read more here! If you missed the Festival of Christian Pilgrimage that took place on Monday 14th September, you can catch the whole thing on YouTube here. If you want to hear our new Patron, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, you can skip to his talk at 1:17! 10th September The statistics from Santiago Pilgrim Office have been released - 19,812 Compostela certificates were issued in August. Over 15,000 of these pilgrims were Spanish. Otherwise, predominantly Italian, Portuguese, German and French. 134 were British! Almost 18,000 were walkers, with around 1,800 cyclists, 11 horse riders, 11 sailors and 4 wheelchair users. The top starting points were Sarria (5,701), Tui (1690), Ferrol (1945), St Jean Pied de Port (832) and Porto (830). Around 53% of these pilgrims were following the Camino Francés. For the full breakdown, visit https://oficinadelperegrino.com/estadisticas2/ Numbers of cases remain high across Spain, similar to numbers in March earlier this year and local restrictions are tightening. Although another national lockdown is looking unlikely. It is looking increasingly probable that Portugal will soon be added to the "essential travel only" list. In that event, we remind pilgrims of the plethora of pilgrim routes in the UK to whet the appetite! You can see our Caminos in the UK page for more info, and visit the website of the British Pilgrimage Trust who have a fantastic directory of possible pilgrim routes you can do from home! Our newly updated version of the St James Way will be available from our online shop on Friday 11th September, for those wanting to walk all or part of the way from Reading to Southampton. 4th September With Spain and France still on the "essential travel only" list, we are steering pilgrims' attention firstly towards local pilgrimage (see post below) and also Portugal - for as long as it stays off the list! We have heard from pilgrims out on the Caminho that there is enough accommodation available and that most of them can be booked through Booking.com . There are cheap flights to Lisbon and Porto at the moment. Some airlines may ask you to fill in a contact form before you arrive (as best you can if you're a travelling pilgrim). These appear to be enforced to different degrees depending on the airline! Masks are required in all establishments without fail. The CSJ stocks a guidebook to the route from Lisbon to Porto, including the detour to Fátima - which remains open. As long as it remains safe to travel to Portugal, this would be a great alternative for budding pilgrims! 27th August The number of diagnosed cases of Covid-19 in Spain is now comparable to that of late March earlier this year, with more than 19,000 new confirmed instances on August 24th alone. However, the number of deaths remains relatively low, with just 25 recorded for today. If you are planning your Camino in Spain or France soon, please do bear in mind that the UK government's official advice is not to travel to either country unless for essential purposes. If you choose to go still, you must do everything you can to keep yourself and those around you safe. As long as they remain on the "essential-only" list, there will be severe consequences on your travel insurance, as well as possibly your travel itinerary. Both will need to be consulted carefully. That said, if you're desperate to scratch that itch, remember there are other options: Pilgrimage in the UK! There is so much beautiful walking and cycling to be found in this country. You can see our Caminos in the UK page for more info, and visit the website of the British Pilgrimage Trust who have a fantastic directory of possible pilgrim routes you can do from home! Portugal, which is not currently on the "essential-only" list of countries, has some beautiful and historic pilgrim routes which are well signposted and catered for. The route from Porto is the second most popular Camino route after the Camino Francés! You can read more about the Camino Portugués here. Some notes from a UK peregrina currently on the Camino Francés: In Galicia it is now necessary to fill in entry forms - downloaded online. You have 24 hours after crossing into Galicia from another province (or abroad) to do this. Albergues in: Galicia - some municipals are open, such as at O Cebreiro. We have heard that none are open on the Finisterre loop. Castilla y León - Some of the parochial albergues are open, such as San Nicolas de Flue in Ponferrada. Many churches are closed. 6th August The main news to report this week is that Pilgrim Office statistics for July have now been uploaded to their website - www.oficinadelperegrino.com If you scroll the drop down menus to 2020 and "julio" you can see the full breakdown. Some interesting things we noted: More than 9,700 pilgrims were counted for the month. More than 80% were Spanish, predominantly coming from Andalucía, Madrid and the Comunidad Valenciana. Other top nationalities included German, Italian and Portuguese, with 63 pilgrims hailing from the UK. 92% arrived on foot, but there were 736 by bike, 9 on horseback and 2 in a wheelchair! Around a third started in Sarria, with the next most popular start points being Tui, Ferrol, Oviedo and Porto. Additionally, we did receive word from the Office for Citizen Information and Care in Madrid that the Health Certificate for travellers into Spain is only required if you have arrived by air or by sea. We will update this post if we hear any updates on this. 30th July This week we heard from recently returned pilgrim, Richard Lendon, who spoke about his experience walking from Pamplona to Santiago and on to Porto. Overall he had a positive experience. The locals he met were welcoming and hospitable as ever. And he always found accommodation, though sometimes had to walk further than he anticipated to find it. On one occasion, he said, he had to walk 20km without a single shop, café or hostel open. Where there was available accommodation, there were often only a couple of pilgrims to a dormitory. The number of pilgrims was very low all the way along the Camino Francés, with slightly more on the Camino Portugués. All locals and pilgrims wore masks as standard, and in Galicia there are now fines in force for not wearing them. Alcoholic hand wash was always readily available. Richard is now in self-isolation, as mandated by the UK government for travellers from Spain. The FCO is now advising against all but essential travel to Spain and its islands, which will have significant insurance implications. Some airlines, including Jet2, have cancelled their flights to Spain. - - 25th July Announcement that people returning to the UK from Spain will be required to self isolate for 14 days: see BBC announcement here. - - 23rd July A great website to look at for up-to-date information on Coronavirus outbreaks in Spain is http://egeria.house/camino-corona-updates/ It's run by CSJ member in Santiago, Sybille Yates. If you are walking/planning to walk a Camino, please keep an eye on this page and always adhere to official travel advice from the respective authorities. There are several ways to celebrate St James Feast Day on 25th July from your home! There is the online St James Day mass from Fr Denis of the Redemptorist order in Hampshire, available here. There is the live streaming of the St James Day service from St James Spanish Place, London, available here. And you can even watch the fiestas happening in Spain. Click here to see live streams of small fireworks displays in 8 different locations across Spain. Spain – borders are open, no quarantine requirements from UK/EU. No travel restrictions in place; only “no travel” advice so far. Albergues are opening on Camino Frances, safety measures largely in place. Xunta albergues - some seem to be open and word is that all will gradually open until September. Reservations for albergues are on the increase HAPPY ST JAMES DAY! See the CSJ Facebook Page for announcements about UK celebrations Facebook pages/groups to follow: CSJ-UK Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/CSJUK Camino Pilgrim Discussion Group: www.facebook.com/groups/confraternitysaintjames/ CSJ Members Group: www.facebook.com/groups/CSJ.UK/ 16th July Pilgrims are on the camino but numbers are low and it seems that many of the ones arriving in Santiago are coming by bicycle. Some albergues are open and most are following strict guidelines but still want to feel welcoming. Duvets are generally not supplied, and the availability of sheets and blankets vary from place to place - best to carry a sleeping bag with you. Also, not all albergues are serving meals but those who are will be following social distancing and disinfecting procedures. Condiments will be in sachets rather than communal containers (and you might want to bring your own). Some require you to provide your own cutlery. There is good advice here: https://elmirondesoria.es/nacional/sociedad/recomendaciones-para-retomar-la-actividad-en-camino-de-santiago Masks are required in Spain, though specific rules might vary from place to place. These should be surgical grade masks rather than homemade cotton masks. Be careful about arriving in an overheated state as you will most likely have your temperature recorded when you arrive at your albergue. You might want to sit in the shade with a cool drink before going in! 9th July If traveling into Spain, you must have obtained a health certificate, which you can do via spth.gob.es and keep a copy either on your smart phone or printed out. There has been a spike of reported cases of Covid-19 in Lugo province. However, it seems to have been contained, with no hospitalisations. All 168 people infected are required to self-isolate for one week. Plastic sacks are being made available by refuges in which to place rucksacks to help with sanitation in the pilgrim hostels. Masks are mandatory in all situations where a social distance of 1.5m is not possible.