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COVID-19

Which jobs are considered essential under Spain’s lockdown restrictions?

In further lockdown measures announced by the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez from Monday March 30th only those workers considered “essential” are allowed to leave the house to go to their work place.

Which jobs are considered essential under Spain's lockdown restrictions?
Photos: AFP

The list of professions exempt from the lockdown was published in Spain’s official state bulletin late Sunday night after being approved in an emergency cabinet meeting.

All other people are only permitted to leave their homes under the following reasons: to purchase food or medicine, to visit sick or vulnerable dependents, to go to the hospital or to walk the dog.

These measures are now in place until at least April 12th but may in fact be extended further if deemed necessary.

So, until at least Easter everyone in Spain is on lockdown unless they have very good reason to leave the house.

The restrictions do not apply to those who are considered to carry out essential work which includes those employed in the sectors of healthcare (including veterinarians and opticians), food (including pet food) and medicine, the media, fuel and energy, tobacconists, IT and telecom services.

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Those employed in sector that care for the elderly and vulnerable will be allowed to carry out their work.

People who are employed in research and development or biotechnology industry that are working towards solutions for the coronavirus crisis are also allowed to continue their work.

People working in mortuary services including funeral directors are exempt.

Those involved in the care of animals are allowed to continue their work.

Motor mechanics will be allowed to work to provide repairs for freight vehicles and the emergency services.

And those who work in financial services, including banks, insurance companies and investment funds will be allowed to continue to provide essential services.  

The exemption also includes those working in restaurants that provide home delivery services and those hotels that are required to remain open to provide emergency accommodation.

Those employed with companies that are involved in the production or supply chain of medical, sanitary or cleaning equipment are also considered exempt from the restrictions.

Those working in public transport or freight or the maintenance services behind them will be allowed to go to work.

So too will those working in prisons as well as those working in emergency services and private security companies.

Those working in the media, as well as the printing and distribution of the press, and including those who sell newspapers from kiosks are exempt from the restrictions.

Will the banks be open? 

Banks will continue to function in order to provide essential services and some of the branches will remain open, however only those with appointments will be allowed into the branch. Cash points remain functional and other transactions and services are encouraged online where possible.

What about the post office?

Post office workers fall into the essential category and postal services have been guaranteed throughout the state of alarm. That said, post offices themselves are operating limited opening hours (between 9.30 and 12.30) and only for essential services.   

 

All other work outside of these essential jobs must be carried out from home where possible.

Those who cannot work from home will still be paid and will be expected to make up the work hours at a later date.

Employers must continue to pay workers’ salaries in full for the next two weeks with the condition that employees will  make up the hours before December 31st, insisted  Spanish Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz after the cabinet meeting.

 ‘We are talking about a period of eight working days,’ pointing out that both Maundy Thursday (April 9th) and Good Friday (April 10th) are public holidays in most of the regions of Spain.

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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