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COVID-19

Lifting lockdown: What you can and can’t do during Spain’s Phase 1

The final provinces of Spain have at last been given permission to advance to Phase 1.

Lifting lockdown: What you can and can't do during Spain's Phase 1
Customers enjoying a terrace bar in Valenica. Photos: AFP

Madrid, Barcelona and the parts of Castilla y Leon that had been held back in the de-escaltation process have all been given the green light to advance to Phase 1 in Spain's “Plan to Transition to the New Normal”.

 

LATEST: These are the provinces advancing to Phase 1 and Phase 2

Here's a guide to what you can and can't do during Phase 1, bearing in mind that restrictions are looser in those towns with a population fewer than 10,000 people. 

READ MORE:  

Meeting friends and family

During Phase One, social contact between people who live in the same municipality and who are not considered to be in a vulnerable or at risk group will be allowed to meet.

However the meetings will be restricted to ten people maximum and can occur either in a public place such as a terrace or in a private home or garden where social distancing measures must be met.

READ MORE: Q&A What are the rules for meeting friends during Spain's Phase 1?

Small businesses

During Phase Zero, business with premises under 400 metres were allowed to open by appointment only to deal with customers on a one to one basis, this was relaxed further for Madrid and Barcelona last week when they entered Phase 0.5 to allow up to a third of the usual number of clients to enter at any one time as long as they can guarantee social distancing and hygiene measures.  The premises must be disinfected twice a day.

This will continue in Phase 1.

Establishments should set aside dedicated time slots specifically for elderly customers to avoid those more vulnerable to covid-19 from coming into contact with other groups.

Pavement cafes

Resaturants, bars and cafes will be allowed to open their terraces for customers as long as they keep to 50 percent of the usual capacity – that means allowing more space between tables and that groups are no bigger than 10 people. Tables must be disinfected between customers.

Hotels

Hotels, hostels and tourist accommodation will be allowed to open for overnight stays although they will have to keep communal areas such as dining rooms and gyms closed.

Places of worship

These will be allowed to open and hold services as long they reduce usual capacity to 30 percent.

Museums

Museums and exhibitions spaces will be allowed to open at a third of capacity ensuring hygiene and social distancing measures are observed and that crowds are avoided.

Cultural events

Those held inside are limited to under 30 people, seated and at the maximum of a third of the capacity of space.

While those outside can involve a maximum of 200 people as long as they too are seated.

Outdoor markets

These can reopen butwith 25 percent of the usual number of stands to allow them to be spaced far apart and the volume of visitors capped at 30 percent of the usual maximum capacity.

Funerals

During lockdown funeral services may be held with “a limited amount” of mourners. Wakes can be attended by up to 15 people if held outside, and providing social distancing is observed between those from different households, while up to ten people can gather if it is held indoors.

Burials are also limited to 15 people in attendance.

Second homes

If you have a second home within the same province then you are allowed to visit it but if it is outside your province then you are not.

Gyms and sporting facilities

Open air sports facilities will be opening during Phase 1 but only for those sports that don’t involve physical contact such as tennis or athletics.

Gyms will be open for training sessions by private appointment but changing rooms will not be in use.

Public swimming pools will not open in Phase 1.

Time slots

Spain currently has a timetable in place determining when different groups can take their exercise outside. This is to protect the must vulnerable groups in the population and to try and prevent overcrowding. 

So adults can exercise outside between 6am and 10am and between 8pm and 11pm while those over 70 have the slots between 10am and noon and 7pm and 8pm. Children are allowed outside between noon and 7pm.

These will continue to be in place during Phase 1, although regional governments have been the authority to adapt the timetable to take into account the warmer weather so as to allow children to avoid taking an outing in the hottest part of the day. 

Do I have to wear a mask?

Masks have been complusory on public transport since May 4th and from Thursday May 21st it was made compulsory for all those over the age of six to wear masks in public places and places open to the public where it is impossible to maintain the 2 metre distancing rule.

However there are exceptons for those who have respiratory, health or behaviourial problems that make the wearing of a mask impossible or if you are eating or drinking.  

READ MORE: Face masks are now mandatory in Spain: What you need to know

Things you CANNOT do in Phase 1

You are not allowed to travel outside your province.

Cannot hold parties of over ten people

Cannot visit large shops or commercial centres with premises are over 400 metres

Check your local council website as to what parks, beaches and public spaces are open.

These rules are slightly different if you live within a municipality with a population below 10,000.

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COVID-19

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.

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