Spain’s government has finally confirmed details of the conditions that must be met when taking children outside their homes for the first time since lockdown began six weeks on March 14th.
Spain's deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias and Health Minister Salvador Illa announced details on Thursday morning of the guidelines that have been prepared by a Ministry of Health committee following the recommendations of a team of pediatric experts.
They confirmed that the lifting of lockdown for children under the age of 14 would begin from Sunday April 26th a day earlier than first suggested and that the following conditions must be met
Accompanied by an adult
Children up to the age of 14 are only allowed outside when accompanied by an adult, who lives within the same household and who will make sure the children act responsibly when in public areas.
Each adult will be allowed to accompany up to three children under the age of 14.
So far under the lockdown rules, a parent could only take a child on an errand with them if there was no other adult at home to care for them and they were too young to be left alone.
Once a day, within a time frame
The excursions can happen once a day, within the times of 9am to 9pm and for up to one hour only.
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What activities will children be allowed to do?
The initial statement made it clear that children are not being allowed out “to play”, but rather to accompany their parents on those valid trips outside the home that are permissible under lockdown restrictions. That means, on a trip to the supermarket or pharmacy or on a visit to the ATM or bank.
But within hours there was a sharp U-turn after an outcry from parents and it was then decided that children would be allowed to go out for walks.
They will not, however, be allowed to visit children's playgrounds or go to the park or beach as contact with other children is to be avoided at all costs.
But the latest information suggests that children will be allowed to walk, and even run and jump, as long as they maintain social distancing with people from outside their household.
Children are allowed to ride a scooter or play with a ball but must be very careful not to interact with any others outside of their household.
Those children who live in rural areas will be allowed to walk in the countryside or woods as long as they maintain social distancing.
But parks and playgrounds would remain closed.
?️@salvadorilla explica cómo serán las salidas de menores de 14 años desde el domingo
✅ 1 hora de 9 a 21 h.
✅ A 1 km máx. del hogar
✅ Un adulto puede acompañar hasta a 3 niños
❌ No se puede acceder a zonas deportivas ni de columpios@Congreso_Es#EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos pic.twitter.com/vwk7sv9sVK
— Ministerio de Sanidad (@sanidadgob) April 23, 2020
Will they have to wear face masks or gloves?
A child in Indonesia puts on a facemask. Photo: AFP
The heath minister confirmed that there would be no compulsory orders for children to wear health masks, following a point made by Maria Jesus Montero, spokesperson for the government after Tuesday cabinet meeting who said it was “very complicated to regulate such measures for children”
Firstly because in small children it is difficult to ensure they gloves and masks are used efficiently to prevent infection. The second reason is that these items are very difficult to source especially in small sizes.
However, Iglesias added that children must keep a distance of at least 1.5 to 2 metres distance from other people and if there was a risk that they would be unable to maintain that distance then disposable masks should be worn.
What about those over 14?
The guidelines also suggest that children over 14 will be allowed to accompany their parents outside the home – previously it had been suggested that they could take solo trips for the approved reasons – such as to buy bread or a newspaper.
Wash hands frequently and check for symptoms
The guidelines will state that hygiene measures should be in place including frequent hand washing before you leave the house and as soon as you return from outside and that those with symptoms such as a temperature or cough should not leave the house.
Can adults now go outside to exercise too?
No, unfortunately not. Such a measure has not yet been agreed although Pedro Sanchez told parliament during a debate on Wednesday that there may be further loosening of restrictions after April 27th. So until then, unless you have children or a dog you must confine your trips outside the home to shopping for essentials, seeking medical care or helping vulnerable relatives.