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MALLORCA

Covid-19: What does it mean if you live in one of Mallorca’s confined zones?

Health authorities on the island of Mallorca have confined four zones of the capital Palma amid rapidly rising Covid-19 cases. But what impact does this have on daily life?

Covid-19: What does it mean if you live in one of Mallorca’s confined zones?
File Photo of a closed bar in Mallorca: AFP

Residents of the neighbourhoods of Son Gotleu, Can Capes, La Soledat Nord and part of Son Canals, four barrios with a combined population of just under  23,000 people face restricted movement for at least 15 days beginning at 10pm on Friday September 11 in a bid to curb transmission of the virus.

This means residents will only be allowed out of the confinement limits for “essential” reasons  and  entry to restricted to outsiders who have essential business within the confinement zones.

What is “essential business?”

Basically going to work school or to attend a medical appointment  are the only reasons why you are allowed to cross confinement lines.

Caring for an elderly relative, a child, dependant or those considered vulnerable are also valid reasons to leave or enter the confined area.

Visiting the bank or other financial institutions is also considered a valid reason, as is legal or administrative processes that cannot be postponed.

People are still able to transit the town by driving through it as long as they do not stop there.

Are you allowed to leave your home?

Although people are not strictly confined to their homes and can go outside to take exercise or visit the supermarket. You can even visit local businesses and that includes restaurants and bars, which have a closing time imposed of 10pm.

In addition all religious services except for funerals are suspended and even those are limited to a third of capacity and a maximum of 15 people.

Sports centres, gyms, entertainment venues and even public parks and gardens will all be closed including children’s playgrounds.

The decision was taken  by regional health authorities in the Balearic Islands as community transmission in these neighbourhoods soared with the latest data showing  496 cases per 100,000 people, three times as much as the average for the entire island of Mallorca.

The confinement was announced the day before children across the island started back at school. 

Spain continues to be the hardest hit country in Europe reaching a total of over half a million confirmed cases of Covid-19 this week and recording 29,516 related deaths.

This gives Spain a per-capita infection rate about twice that of France and Italy, according to official data with an average of 236 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.

Madrid continues to be the epicentre of infection with one third of all new cases across Spain recorded in the capital and an incidence rate of 543 cases per 100,000 people.

Despite this, authorities in the capital are refusing to consider a perimetre confinement of the kind seen in Mallorca and isolated towns across Spain including in Valencia, Salamanca and Valladolid.

 

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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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