UPDATE: What you need to know about Spain’s new rules for taking children outside during lockdown

From Sunday, children in Spain will be allowed to go outside.

UPDATE: What you need to know about Spain's new rules for taking children outside during lockdown
Photo: Alex Berger/ Flickr

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. 

From Sunday

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.


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.

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. 


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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.