Coronavirus: What restrictions are there on daily life in Spain?

Authorities in Madrid, the Basque Country and La Rioja – the regions of Spain with the most confirmed coronavirus cases – have ordered all schools, daycare centres and universities to close for two weeks.

Coronavirus: What restrictions are there on daily life in Spain?
Photo: AFP

On Tuesday, Spain unveiled drastic new measures to attempt to contain the coronavirus after the number of cases more than doubled within 24 hours.

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The number of cases recorded in Spain has surged since the weekend with more than 1,600 individuals testing positive across Spain.

At least 100 cases are considered “serious” and are being treated in intensive care units and 35 people have already died from the disease.

While authorities in Madrid, the Basque Country and La Rioja took decisions to close schools, colleges and universities as well as day care centres for the young and elderly, the government took the decision to suspend flights between Spain and Italy and to cancel sporting events where large crowds were expected.  

Up until now, authorities had insisted that closing the schools and keeping children at home could be counterproductive.


Schools in Madrid will be closed from Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Emergencies, who leads the twice daily press conferences has argued that closing schools could see children placed in the care of older grandparents who represent the most vulnerable group when it comes to the coronavirus.

However, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the time had come to order the closures.

“The measures that we have adopted in the educational area seem effective to us to avoid transmission and contagion, in line with those taken by our European counterparts,” Illa said.

The government also ordered the cancellation of events likely to draw crowds over 1,000 people in the hotspot areas of Madrid, Vitoria and Labastida, just 48 hours after the capital saw huge congregations gather on the streets to march for Women’s Day.

Numerous sporting events have been either cancelled or will be played behind close doors during the next few weeks.

Spain's La Liga confirmed on Tuesday that first and second division football matches will be staged behind closed doors for at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures follow the decision of the Spanish High Council of Sports that all sporting events in Spain at state and international level should be played without fans to limit the spread of the virus.

“According to information from the High Sports Council (CSD), La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank matches will be played behind closed doors from today and for at least the next two weeks,” a La Liga statement read.

“La Liga will remain in permanent contact with the Ministry of Health and the CSD to meet their recommendations and/or decisions, and put first the health of fans, players, club employees and journalists during the health
crisis of COVID-19.”

Authorities have cancelled a programme of trips organised for the elderly under the Imserso programme (the institute for Elderly and Social Services)

“Travel must be avoided whenever possible,” explained Illa.

Flights between Italy and Spain have been suspended from midnight tonight until at least March 25.

Illa also recommended companies to insist on working from home (teletrabajo) where possible and to avoid meetings.

Elderly day care centres in the capital have been closed since last Friday and visitors at residential homes for the elderly limited in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

The number of cases recorded in Spain has surged since the weekend with more than 1,600 individuals testing positive across Spain.

At least 100 cases are considered “serious” and are being treated in intensive care units and 35 people have already died from the disease.

Madrid regional authorities have issued orders to disinfect all public transport on a daily basis in the hope of limiting the contagion, while supermarkets have been selling out of staples as people stockpile for fear of being confined to their homes.

Empty shelves in a supermarket in the capital as panic buying sets in. Photo. AFP

Coronavirus hotlines have been set up in each region across Spain to relieve pressure on the 112 health emergency number, (apart from Asturias, Extremadura and Melilla which have yet to set up a dedicated number).

If you think you have symptoms of the coronavirus and have serious reason to believe that you may be infected, then do not go to the hospital or local health clinic but instead isolate yourself at home and then call your regional hotline which can be found here.

Pedro Sanchéz, the Spanish prime minister, said on Monday that he would unveil a “shock therapy” plan to combat the spread of coronavirus.

“We will announce a shock therapy plan in a few days as soon as we determine the exact diagnosis and fine tune the measures,” he said. “We want the plan to be effective and proportional to the scale of the problem.” 
Nadia Calvino, the economy minister, said the government was taking action to avoid the outbreak doing more damage to the worst hit industries like tourism. 
She said the plan would be temporary and limited.
On Tuesday the far-right party Vox confirmed that it's secretary general, Javier Ortega Smith had tested positive to the virus and ordered all its parliamentarians to work from home. 

All 30 who have died from the virus were over 69 years old, with many living in nursing homes.

The first person to die from the virus was a 69-year-old man from Valencia who had recently travelled to Nepal. It was first thought that he died from pneunomia but tests later proved the cause was the virus.

The Spanish stock exchange fell 7 per cent today after trading started, the worst collapse since the Iraq War in 2003.



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Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

The Catalan Health Ministry has introduced a new way of asking for sick leave from work for those with Covid-19 symptoms. The leave will automatically be given for five days, without the need to present a positive test.

Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

Catalan Health Service Director Gemma Craywickel, along with the Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas, announced the move during a press conference on Tuesday.

Workers with Covid symptoms can now ask for sick leave from their job through the Meva Salut website, app or via the appointment website here, without the need to present a positive antigen or PCR test. The new service has been available since Tuesday, July 5th.

All that is needed is to log on with a CIP number and password or digital certificate and click on ‘altres servis’ (other services), followed by ‘Programar visites d’atenció primària’, where you usually make an appointment. 

Those who apply will automatically be given sick leave for the next five days, which will be confirmed via text message or e-mail.

If symptoms persist longer than five days, authorities say you should contact your local health centre to ask for the leave to be extended.

The move was introduced in a bid to take the pressure off local health services who attended 105,024 patients in the last week, 16 percent more than during the previous week.

Around 9.07 percent of people who visited hospitals in the region on Monday July 4th -15,817 patients – had symptoms compatible with Covid-19.

In addition, within the last four weeks, Catalan health services have seen 85 percent more patients with acute respiratory illnesses, thought to be a result of Covid-19 infections.

“The measure aims to free up resources for people who really them,” explained Craywinckel.

“It’s a way of simplifying administrative procedures. We already know what the symptoms are, so there is no need for the patient to explain to us face-to-face or over the phone,” she continued.

The number of Covid-19 infections in Catalonia has risen by 15 percent in the last week, with 2,032 hospital admissions, the highest number since mid-February 2022.

There have also been 51 Covid-19 patients admitted to Catalan ICUs in the last week.

Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas called on people to respect the requirement to continue wearing face masks on public transport and said that vulnerable people should keep wearing masks in indoor public spaces too. 

READ MORE: What are the specific mask rules for public transport and travel in Spain?

This is not the first time the Catalan health authorities have introduced an automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19.

A similar service was introduced earlier this year during the height of the sixth wave, with a seven-day leave period plus the need to present a positive Covid-19 test.

Andalusia also introduced a similar automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19 and a positive test back in February 2022.