23 May Latest Lockdown News in Spain
Fifty-two percent of Spain including all its islands, the whole of Andalusia, the Basque Country and Galicia is now in phase 3. The de-escalation to a ‘new normality’ officially started on Monday 4 May and will last eight weeks, until the end of June. The state of alarm will officially end on 21 June.
The government has approved a decree for Spain’s ‘new normality’. It states that after the de-escalation period is over on 21 June, face masks will continue to be compulsory for everyone over the age of 6 in public places where it is not possible to maintain the 2 metre social distancing rule. This regulation will be in force until the cabinet decides that Covid-19 no longer poses a serious risk. Anyone not wearing a face mask in enclosed public spaces or on public transport faces a fine of €100. There are of course exceptions for those with breathing issues. The decree leaves open the possibility of regional authorities regulating face mask usage in open air spaces.
With the move to phase 3 regional authorities will take control of the de-escalation process, and they can decide how long this final phase should last. Regional authorities for areas in phase 3 can also allow free movement within their entire territories from Monday 8 June. See below for activities allowed in phase 3.
Activities Allowed in Phase 1
We’ve been waiting for this for what seems like an eternity – finally we will be able to meet up with friends and family. Up to 10 people can meet for social gatherings, outside or in someone’s home, and the outside seating areas of bars and restaurants will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Social distancing measures of course must still be respected between people who do not live together.
Time slots for taking walks and doing exercise will remain in place to avoid crowds, particularly in city centres. However, since you can move around outside of these times to do other activities and visit people this seems like a bit of grey area. I’m not quite sure how the timetable will be enforced. Hopefully the regions will be given permission to adapt them according to factors such as hot weather but that remains to be seen. It’s not much fun taking babies and children out in the middle of the day in this heat! Already, in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants the time slots have been relaxed.
Other big changes are that small businesses can open and serve customers. Outdoor markets will be open as well. Social services offices are allowed to open and reading rooms in libraries too. Hairdressers and beauticians can be open by appointment. Sports centres for individual sport activities will be open by appointment too. Cultural shows and events can take place with limited audiences. Schools and universities can open for administrative tasks and working from home will continue wherever possible.
People will be able to leave their town and travel throughout their health region, but not go to another region (unless for health or work reasons). Travelling to second homes is allowed if it is in the same province.
In this phase travel in your own car with other people you live with is permitted without restrictions. You may also travel in a taxi, but sitting in the front seat is not permitted. If the occupants of a vehicle don’t live together, a limit of one person in each row of seats applies, and they will have to wear face masks.
Activities Allowed in Phase 2
Phase 2 sees a further loosening of restrictions. The timetable for doing individual exercise outdoors will be made more flexible. People under 70 will be allowed out at any time, excluding the time slots for elderly people (10am-12 noon and 7-8pm) to go for a walk or exercise. This will be a great relief to families with children – to be able to be outside in the cooler parts of the day.
Restaurants and cafes can open their indoor seating areas with table service only and theatres and cinemas too can reopen but all with limited capacity.
Schools will not officially open until September but in phase 2 some will be open for activities such as reinforcement classes, preparation for university entrance exams, and ensuring that children under the age of six can go to school if parents have to go to work and have no one to leave their children with.
Shopping centres too will open in this phase. Capacity is limited to 40% within shops and 30% in communal areas. Some museums, monuments and cultural facilities, with capacity limited will also be open.
Activities Allowed in Phase 3
Phase 3 is the final step before arriving at the ‘new normal’. The timetable which gave different age groups specific hours in which to go outside and exercise has been eliminated in this phase. There are no longer restrictions on when you can leave the house which will certainly makes life easier for those with children.
The number of people allowed to meet socially has risen from 15 under phase 2 to up to 20 people during phase 3. The other significant changes are that restaurants and cafes can increase capacity in outside spaces from 50 to 75%. Bars can open too but with safety measures in place. All shops can now open regardless of the size including shopping malls as long as capacity does not exceed 50%. Cinemas, theatres, shows and concerts can all open also with 50% occupancy.
Group sports, including exercise classes, can be practised between up to 20 people as long as they are non-contact sports. Youth activities such as summer camps and casals for children can take place with a third of the usual capacity. Again this will be a relief for parents who will be able to enrol children in fun structured daytime activities for the first time in a long time!
Beaches are allowed to reopen in Phase 2. Up until now, they have been open only for walks and sporting activities. Regional and local authorities are establishing general protocols for reopening beaches but the final decision on beach regulations will fall to city councils, which are largely responsible for beach management. The draft still needs to be approved by the Health Ministry. Whatever the regulations they may not be easy to enforce. This week Barcelona residents were allowed to walk and exercise along the beach but images of large crowds of people gathering in close proximity, and others sunbathing had the police out with loud speakers, dispersing groups and reminding residents that sunbathing is not permitted. In other areas the police largely left people to sunbathe and relax on the sand so it seems it depends which part of the beach you go to and the discretion of the local police whether you will be allowed to stay.
Some regions in Spain have already outlined their own regulations. It was noted in El Pais this week, in the case of Andalusia, that “regional authorities have recommended limiting time at the beach to four hours, setting out safe distances on the sand, setting opening and closing hours, disinfecting beaches every day, and banning the use of shower facilities and changing rooms.” The rules are different for each coastal region and municipality during phase 1 and 2 so best to check for updates with your local authority.
It is compulsory to wear face masks on public transport in Spain and in areas where it is not possible to respect social distancing. The central government and regional leaders agreed that face masks must be worn in open-air spaces and any closed space that is for public use where it is not possible to maintain a distance of two metres. The ministerial order states that everyone over the age of six should wear a face mask and also recommended that children between three and five years of age wear them too.
People with respiratory problems, or those who cannot wear masks for other health reasons or due to a disability, are exempt from wearing them. The order makes exceptions for cases where wearing a mask is incompatible with carrying out activities. It was confirmed by the government that the use of face masks will not be obligatory while practicing sport or doing exercise for example.
So we can all begin to breath a little again and live a little again…….and hope that the move through the de-escalation phases is swift and smooth.
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