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Catalonia mulls weekend lockdowns to contain coronavirus as Aragon shuts borders

Spain's Catalonia region said Monday it was studying imposing a lockdown on weekends to fight the spread of the coronavirus, a day after nighttime curfew came into effect across the country.

Catalonia mulls weekend lockdowns to contain coronavirus as Aragon shuts borders
View of an empty street during strict lockdown in March. Photo: AFP

“It is a scenario which is on the table because it is during the weekend that there are more social interactions,” the spokeswoman for the regional government, Meritxell Budo, told Catalan public radio.

Infections have soared in recent days in the wealthy northeastern region, home to around 7.5 million people, as well as the rest of Spain, which last week became the first European Union nation to surpass one million confirmed
Covid-19 cases.   

To try to curb the infection rate Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday declared a national state of emergency, and a curfew covering all of Spain except the Canary Islands where infections are lower.

He has said the government wants to avoid a repeat of the nationwide lockdown put in place in March during the first wave of the pandemic and only fully lifted in June.

Elsewhere in the world Israel, Ireland and Wales have recently imposed lockdowns confining people to their homes for all but essential reasons to fight the virus.

“We must avoid a total lockdown as we had in March, unless it comes absolutely necessary and it is the only option. We must look at other scenarios and this is one of them,” Budo added in a reference to a weekend lockdown.

Infections have soared in recent days in the wealthy northeastern region, home to around 7.5 million people, as well as the rest of Spain, which last week became the first European Union nation to surpass one million confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Catalonia's neighbouring region of Aragon  — which is home to some 1.3 million people — announced it would close its regional borders as of Tuesday.

The measure means no one will be allowed to enter or leave the region unless they have a “justified” reason, such as to go to work or seek medical care, the regional government of Aragon said in a tweet.

The northern region of Asturias said it would announce later on Monday whether it will adopt a similar measure.

Two other northern regions, Navarra and La Rioja, have already closed their regional borders.   

To try to curb the rise in coronavirus infections, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday declared a national state of emergency, and a curfew covering all of Spain except the Canary Islands where infections are lower.   

He has said the government wants to avoid a repeat of the nationwide lockdown put in place in March during the first wave of the pandemic and only fully lifted in June.

Declaring a state of emergency gives Spain's 17 autonomous regions legal tools to impose tougher restrictions, such as the closure of their borders, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

The initial state of emergency will last for 15 days, but Sanchez has said he wants to prolong it until the beginning of May.   

But the leader of the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) said Monday he will only accept the measure being extended until mid-December.    

The government seems to have secured enough support to push through any future extension without relying on the PP, however Sanchez has said he would like to have the support of the main opposition party.

The latest figures show the virus has claimed nearly 35,000 lives in Spain. 

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COVID-19 RULES

What are Spain’s current rules for asymptomatic and mild Covid cases?

Spain is currently experiencing an eighth Covid wave. For those who test positive during the summer of 2022, here's a reminder of all the rules and recommendations you need to be aware of, concerning asymptomatic, mild and serious cases.

What are Spain's current rules for asymptomatic and mild Covid cases?

No one wants to get Covid, particularly when the summer season is approaching and many have booked their annual holidays.

But if you do find that you test positive for Covid-19, here’s what you need to know about Spain’s current health rules. 

Whatever questions you have, from wanting to know if you still need to get an official test or inform your doctor, to whether you can go outside and if you need to wear a face mask, we’ve got you covered. 

Q: What if I get Covid but don’t have any symptoms?

A: If you are asymptomatic, in other words you test positive for Covid-19 but don’t experience any symptoms, then it’s not necessary to self-isolate and you are not required to quarantine at home.

Spain’s quarantine requirement for asymptomatic cases was dropped as of March 28th 2022.

However, the health body that advises Spain’s Health Ministry recommends that you still stay at home and rest and that if you do go out, you wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and that you keep social contact to a minimum for a week. 

Q: What if I have mild Covid symptoms?

A: If you have mild Covid symptoms, you fall into the same category as those who have no symptoms for Spanish health authorities.

This means that while it’s not mandatory to isolate at home, you should still rest, wear a mask indoors and outdoors and avoid social contact.

The obligatory quarantine for mild cases was also scrapped as of March 28th, 2022.

Q: What if I have severe Covid symptoms?

A: If you have serious Covid symptoms, Spain’s Health Ministry continues to require a quarantine period of seven days, meaning that it’s mandatory.

It is also still required for those classified as part of the high-risk or vulnerable population, which includes those aged 60 or older, immunosuppressed people and pregnant women. 

Q: Am I allowed to go outside if I have Covid?

A: Yes, as mentioned above, if you have mild or asymptomatic symptoms you are allowed to go outside while you have Covid. However, you should limit your contact with others for a week to make sure you’re not putting others at risk. You should aim to stay at home as much as possible until your symptoms disappear.

Keep in mind that you are highly contagious in the first few days of the illness, so you may want to avoid going out during that time.

Q: Can I go to events if I have Covid-19?

A: Yes, you can leave the house if you have Covid-19, but as you’re expected to limit your contact with others, going to a large event with hundreds of people is not recommended. You could unknowingly be putting vulnerable people at risk. Health authorities still recommend that you avoid gatherings for at least a week after a positive test. 

Q: Do I need to wear a mask if I test positive?

A: The Spanish Health Ministry has confirmed that those who have Covid must wear a mask for “ten days from the diagnosis” of the virus.

They should be worn indoors, as well as outdoors, if a distance can’t be maintained from others. Experts recommend using the FFP2 masks during this time because even if your symptoms are mild, you can still be contagious.

READ ALSO: How likely is it that Spain will make face masks mandatory indoors again?

Q: Can I go to work if I have Covid-19?

A: If you have mild or asymptomatic Covid-19, although the recommendation is to work from home or take sick leave, you can still go in.

However, the health authorities recommend that you wear a mask, avoid contact with vulnerable people and avoid enclosed spaces with little ventilation.

Q: Is it necessary to get officially tested?

A: No, it’s not necessary to get a PCR or antigen done at your local health centre or at a private clinic any more. An antigen test bought from a pharmacy and performed at home will suffice.

Only those with serious symptoms and high-risk groups should get tested now. Although you it’s not necessary anymore to confirm your infection with a test, it’s still useful to test yourself at home so you can avoid contact with others if it’s positive and know when you can get back to life as normal.

Q: Do I have to tell my doctor if I have or have recently had Covid?

A: No, it’s not necessary for everyone to call their doctor if they have Covid, because not all cases are being counted by authorities anymore.

You may, however, still need to call your doctor if you need to sick leave from work. Those in Catalonia will be given an automatic five-day sick leave if they have Covid symptoms, even if they don’t take a test.  

If you are over the age of 60, are immunosuppressed or are in a high risk group, it’s still a good idea to tell your doctor if you test positive.

Q: What do I do if I have come into close contact with someone who has Covid-19?

A: If you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, it’s not necessary for you to take a test or to self-isolate.

The health authorities do recommend that you take precautions though, such as limiting social interactions, wearing a mask and avoid vulnerable people.

Remember that the days before you test positive, but after you have been exposed to the virus are when you are the most contagious. 

Q: What if I get Covid while on holiday in Spain?

A: If you have a mild or asymptomatic case of Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain, you don’t have to quarantine and you don’t have to inform the local health authorities, unless you are in a vulnerable category.

Like above, Spain’s Health Ministry only recommends that you stay at home and rest, that if you do have to go out you wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and that you keep social contact to a minimum for a week.

Different countries have different rules so you may not be able to travel home if you have Covid and may have to wait until you test negative.

READ MORE: What tourists should do if they get Covid while on holiday in Spain? 

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