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Spain outlines new rules and time slots for leaving the house from May 2nd

The Spanish government has confirmed that from Saturday May 2nd, adults will be allowed to leave their home to take a walk outside or do some exercise.

Spain outlines new rules and time slots for leaving the house from May 2nd
Photos: AFP

The latest lifting of restrictions comes after Spain has spent more than six weeks in lockdown under the strictest conditions imposed in Europe.

Children under the age of 14 were allowed out on the streets for the first time last Sunday and now it is the turn of adults too.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa unveiled the conditions in a televised press conference on Thursday evening.

These are the rules as outlined in that press conference:

From Saturday May 2nd, adults will be allowed to leave the home to take a walk or carry out exercise, on their own or with one other person from their own household, within their own municipality and within 1km of their home,  just once a day and for a maximum of one hour.

Time slots:

The minister stated that there would be a timetable with slots (known as franjas in Spanish) designated for different demographics.

Adults can walk outside between 6am and 10 am or between 8pm and 11pm

Those considered more vulnerable or who have to go outside with a carer, will be able to take a walk between 10 and 12 am and between 7pm and 8pm.

The over 70s are also encouraged to use this time slot to take their walk.

While children will be allowed outside between 12 and 7pm.

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

 

Exception for small towns

The Health Minister did make an exception for those towns and villages which have a population of less than 5,000. Residents of these small municipalities will not have to observe a time table but can go out anytime within the hours of 6am and 11pm.

What activities are allowed?

Only those sporting activities that can be carried out individually are allowed at this stage. So walking, jogging, cycling, are all acceptable. Having a kick around with friends with playing a game of tennis are not.

Social distancing

During outings outside the home, Illa said strict social distancing must be observed – which means keeping a distance of 2metres between others. He also advised people to make sure they washed their hands when returning home and wearing a mask for activities where there was a risk of coming within 2 metres of someone else.

Symptoms? Stay at home!

He also said that those who have symptoms, or who have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms, should not leave the house. 

READ MORE: 

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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