A guide to Spain’s lockdown rules during Phase Zero

Here’s what we know about what you can and can’t do while your province is in Phase Zero and what rules have changed.

A guide to Spain's lockdown rules during Phase Zero
People queue in a street in Burgos to enter a bank office. Photo: AFP

The whole of Spain (apart from four islands which are pioneering the plan) entered a preparatory Phase Zero on Monday as the first step in a de-escalation of a lockdown that has been in place since March 14th.

It is the first step in a four phase plan put in place by Spain’s government under the name “The Plan to Transition to a New Normal”.

Each of the four steps – Phase Zero, Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 – see a lifting of restrictions which will last at least two weeks before a thorough assessment can determine whether the next phase can be introduced.


Maps and boundary data are copyrighted by FOTW – Flags Of The World web site

The phases are to be rolled out asymmetrically province by province depending on the evolution of the coronavirus in each zone.

Phase Zero has seen a lifting of restrictions that allow the opening of small businesses by appointment only, restaurants to cater for take-away, the restarting of building renovations and training to resume for professional athletes.

Plus walks outside are now allowed within set time slots depending on one’s age.

 However, more than 35,000 people were fined over the weekend as people went outside to take walks and exercise for the first time after 48 days of lockdown which suggests there is some confusion over what is and what isn’t permitted.

So here’s what we know about what you can and can’t do while your province is in Phase Zero and what rules have changed.

Time slots

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.

If however you live in a municipality with less than 5,000 inhabitants then the time slots don’t apply because authorities deem there is less risk of overcrowding.

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

Children going outside

Photo: AFP

Since April 26th children under-14 have been allowed to leave the house. Time slots were introduced from May 2nd when the adult population was also released from lockdown to take daily exercise.

This means that children can go outside between the hours of midday and 7pm, they can be outside for a maximum of one hour and must be accompanied by an adult who lives in the same home as them.

Up to three children can be accompanied by one adult and only one adult, that is family groups involving more than one adult are not allowed to go out together even if they live in the same house.

There are rules on what children are allowed to do, which include riding a bike, scooter or playing ball within the group that  they live with. They are not allowed to go into playgrounds or interact with other children from outside their household.

According to an FAQ document published by Moncloa, adults can take their own period of exercise during the adult time slot and then again go outside when accompanying their children. 

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

Walking the dog

Photo: AFP

Dog owners have been allowed to walk their pets alone, on short walks near their homes since the start of the lockdown on March 14th in order to allow their animals to perform physiological needs at whatever time they need to.

That hasn’t changed but now they are being encouraged to walk their dogs during the allotted time period for their age group when they take their own hour of exercise and are now allowed to do so in the company of either another adult from within their own household during the adult hours or with children during 12-7pm time slot.

Exercise outside

Photo: AFP

Adults are allowed outside to take a walk or exercise between 6am-10am or between 8pm-11pm once a day.

There is no time limit for how long you can be outside but you should remain within a one kilometre radius from where you live unless you are exercising. (And that includes walking!).

Two adults from the same household are allowed to take walks together.

If exercising (jogging, cycling, rollerblading or walking for the purposes of physical exercise) you are not limited to a 1km radius but must not leave your municipality.

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.

Physical activity ‘must be carried out in a continuous manner avoiding unnecessary stops on roads or in areas of public use’, according to the BOEand any stops that must be made must be kept as short as possible.

READ ALSO: How to calculate how far you can walk under Spain's new lockdown measures

Parks, countryside, beaches

The guidelines state that you are allowed to go wherever is open to the public in your own municipality. Many councils, such as Madrid, have closed parks and other coastal towns have closed beaches.

But some coastal authorities have opened beaches and are allowing swimming kayaking or surfing as long as social distancing can be observed but not yet allowing sunbathing.

Check your local council notices.

So if it is within one km walking distance and it’s open, then you can go. Or if cycling or running and it’s within your municipality then it is allowed.

In a document produced by the government of FAQs it does state that you are not allowed to drive somewhere in order to start your exercise.

Going to the shops/pharmacy

The original rules regarding legitimate reasons for leaving the house – to shop at the supermarket or buy supplies from the pharmacy – are still in place, which means you are not required to carry out those chores within your designated time slots.  

But people are encouraged to combine their visit outside the home for exercise purposes with other trips.  And most importantly to avoid going outside during those hours not reserved for you. This means less crowds during those times when the elderly and more vulnerable are venturing out of their homes.

Visiting small businesses

Photo: AFP

The FAQs state that you should only visit those small business allowed to open during Phase 0 that are located within 1km of your home. However if you need to visit somewhere that doesn’t have a local branch near to you then it’s allowed as long as it is within your municipality.

Small businesses are allowed to open if they occupy premises less than 400metres, can take prior appointments and see clients on a one to one basis while maintaining social distancing and hygiene measures.

Those that are allowed to open include hairdressers and bookshops.  

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


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 4th, those private vehicles with up to nine seats can seat two people in each row to ensure maximum space between them.

READ MORE: How Spain's rules about car travel during lockdown have changed

Taking public transport

Photo: AFP

During phase zero it has been made compulsory to wear masks when travelling on buses, metros and trains and reduced occupancy limits are in place to try and ensure social distancing is possible.

READ MORE: Spain makes masks mandatory on all public transport

Meeting friends and family

Until your province enters Phase 1 you will not be allowed to visit friends or family and even then you will be only be able to do so in groups of a maximum of 10 people and only I f they too live within your province.

Travel beyond your province will not be allowed until a later stage if both your province and the one you want to go to are in the same phase and may not be possible until we reach the “new normal” after transitioning through phase 1-3.

READ ALSO: Q&A: When will we be able to meet friends and family in Spain?

International Travel

Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities haven’t yet indicated when it might be possible to open the borders again and only those who are either Spanish citizens or have residency in Spain are being allowed to enter. From May 15th a complusory 14-day quarantine is required for all arrivals.


Travel to other provinces

Currently you are only allowed to move within your own municipality (unless you have valid reason such as work) but from Phase 1, you should be able to move around within the province.

Visits outside the province would not permitted until the final phase to avoid spreading the virus between zones.

“Imagine that one province is in Phase 1 and another in Phase 3,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said when announcing the plan. “Mobility cannot be permitted in order to go and meet with a relative or friend.”

Movement between provinces would return “when we reach the phase of the new normality,” he added.

READ ALSO Q&A: When can I travel to my second home in Spain?

Things you are still not allowed to do

You are not allowed to meet friends or family members or anyone outside your own household during Phase Zero, but this will be allowed in groups of up to ten people once your province advances to Phase 1 – which could be as soon as May 11th for some. 

You cannot leave your municipality unless for essential work purposes or because of valid circumstances such as helping a vulnerable relative.

Visit your second home. Second homes are still off bounds until Phase 1 and then only if they are located within the same province.

Have a street party. You may have formed new friendships with neighbours through the nightly 8pm applause, held sing-songs from your balconies and even shared group exercise classes, but now is not the time to be strengthening those bonds with face to face meetings even if you attempt keep two metres apart. 

Thousands of fines were issued on Saturday in Madrid alone after impromptu street parties formed with the euphoria of loosening lockdown combined with the annual Dos de Mayo public holiday. 

Stay safe and use your common sense. 

READ MORE:  Police issue 35,000 fines as Spain embraces 'freedom' after 48 days of lockdown

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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.