Lifting lockdown: Seven activities now allowed across Spain during Phase 0

Spain has officially entered Phase Zero on Monday May 4 which is the preparatory stage of the government’s ‘plan to transition to the new normal’.

Lifting lockdown: Seven activities now allowed across Spain during Phase 0
Photos: AFP

The exact measures brought into effect on Monday were published late Sunday in the Official State Gazette (BOE) under the State of Alert measures and these include five main changes.

Compulsory Face Masks

While face masks have been highly recommended in those conditions where it may be difficult to apply social distancing rules of keeping 2 metres apart, the government has taken it a step further and made them mandatory for all those travelling on public transport.

That means if you are planning a journey by bus, metro, train or even plane or ferry then you must wear a mask. They must also be worn inside private vehicles when the passengers are not all members of the same household.

Spain's government said it will distribute six million across the country's main transport hubs from Monday and supply another seven million to local authorities.

A further seven million masks will be given to the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and 1.5 million to various charities such as the Red Cross, Cáritas and Cermi.

Sánchez's government already launched a massive distribution plan of masks on public transport on Monday April 13th to coincide with the end of the lockdown period for non-essential economic activities.

Fernando Simón, director of Spain's Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, said last Wednesday that the use of face masks among the general population was “highly desirable” and “highly recommended” but that he wasn't in favour of making it mandatory. 


Vehicle occupancy

The rules for being on the road have been updated.  Until now private cars have been limited to just the driver except for special circumstances but from Monday May 4, those private vehicles with up to nine seats can seat two people in each row to ensure maximum space between them.

Buses and train carriages have had their occupancy reduced to 50 percent of seated passengers and when standing that there be just two travellers per square metre.

Small businesses reopen

Certain commercial premises – locales as they are known in Spain – will be allowed to open from Monday as long as they offer private appointments booked in advance and are smaller than 400m2.

This includes hair salons which will be open on a one-to-one basis and appointments must be made within the allocated time slot depending on your age.

Masks must be worn if it is not possible to keep 2 metres apart, customers will  not be allowed to use the bathroom and the premises must be disinfected twice a day.

Businesses must make hand santizer available to all clients.


Since lockdown was imposed on March 15, certain restaurants have been allowed to remain open if they offer a home delivery service.

From Monday restaurants can also offer take away, to be collected by customers, provided certain safety conditions can be met. These include orders being taken in advance to avoid crowds and putting workers behind a protective screen when dealing with customers.

Hand sanitizer must be available at the door to the premises and the restaurant must provide bins that can be opened without touching the lid.

Building renovation

Home ‘reformas’ as minor building work is known in Spain can restart again from Monday as long as the workers can keep a distance from each other and other residents in the building. And as long as the premises is empty and the movement of workers through communal areas of a building is limited.

Professional athletes

Athletes regarded as from“high-performance” sports by Spain’s Superior Sports Council will now be allowed to train individually in the open air.

This means that they can access natural areas that are required for their activity depending on the sport, such as the sea, rivers or reservoirs. Unlike for others who are limited to one hour of exercise per day, there is no limit on training times and athletes can be accompanied by a coach.

Other athletes affiliated with clubs are allowed to train individually in the open air twice a day between 6am and 10am and between 8pm and 11pm, as long as they remain within their own municipality.


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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.