‘A complete joke’: What parents think of Spain’s new lockdown rules for children

Parents have reacted furiously to the so-called loosening of lockdown restrictions to allow children out of confinement.

'A complete joke': What parents think of Spain's new lockdown rules for children
Photo: AFP

UPDATE: A few hours after announcing unpopular conditions on letting children outside the home, Spain backtracked and decided that under-14s will be allowed out on walks. 

READ MORE: U-turn: Spain WILL allow children to go out on walks after public outcry

Children in Spain who have been housebound for nearly six weeks can soon look forward to going food shopping with their parents after officials outlined details that will see the virus lockdown loosened for under-14 year-olds from next week.

But unlike the rest of Europe, going out for a walk will remain strictly off-limits in Spain, which imposed one of the world's most restrictive lockdowns on March 14th.

Although adults are allowed out for limited reasons — to buy food and medicine or to walk the dog — children have so far been obliged to stay at home.

“From April 27, the under-14s will be able to accompany an adult going out to places permitted under the state of alarm, for example, to go to the supermarket, the chemist or the bank,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero after the cabinet meeting.

“It is a slight easing of the lockdown but we have to insist that the priority is to avoid any setbacks in the fight against the virus.”   

She added that any trips out still had to “comply scrupulously with measures for both hygiene and social distancing”.

“We are asking fathers and mothers to be responsible,” she said.   

The lifting of restrictions was keenly anticipated by the parents of the roughly 6.8 million children under 14 in Spain but some parents consulted by The Local immediately expressed frustration at the “half-measures” which prevent children from running around in the open air to expend energy.

“It’s a complete joke, It’s incredibly disappointing, we live out in the middle of nowhere we could easily go out for a walk without being seen by anyone but we have been purposely following the rules and holding on in anticipation of this,” said Tania Garcia, a mother of a four-year-old boy, who lives near A Coruña, Galicia.

“So now we can take a child to a supermarket, where they will attempt to touch everything and you have to control everything that they are doing instead of a run around in the countryside? Or go to a pharmacy where we are much more likely to come in contact with older people? But not for a walk in the open air keeping away from other people? It’s absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

Cristina Quevedo, a mother who lives in a flat in Sanchinarro, a suburb of Madrid, with her husband and two children aged 10 and seven said: “We are very angry, it’s completely unreasonable, my whatsapp parent group is on fire with rage about it. 

“The most sensible thing would have been able to take one child out at a time to run around, we can be responsible and not let them play with other kids but this is crazy; to take them to a supermarket where there are people around and too many things to touch? It’s madness.”

Another mother, of two boisterous boys age four and two, said the measure did not go far enough. “I didn’t expect them to open the parks for the children but I was looking forward to taking them out for a wee ride on the scooter.”

But she admitted that one of her friends, a nurse working on the coronavirus frontline in one of Madrid’s hospitals had said it was madness to let children out at all.

“One mum in a WhatsApp group said it was irresponsible of the government to let them out. She’s a nurse in a hospital so dealing with it on the front line.”

READ MORE:  What we know about Spain's new rules on children going out during lockdown

Member comments

  1. What does a family who have 3 children 7 13 15 do. Take out the young ones but tell the oldest you have to stay in. Stupid.

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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.