Q&A: What are the rules under Spain’s new state of emergency?

The Spanish prime minister declared a national state of emergency on Sunday, introducing a curfew covering all of Spain except the Canary Islands, in a bid to curb a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Q&A: What are the rules under Spain’s new state of emergency?
Photos: AFP

The measures went into force from Sunday night and will require all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a night-time curfew and limit the number of people allowed to meet to six.

Under the state of emergency, the regions would have the power to limit movement in and out of their territories, and could also extend the curfew by an hour on either end depending on local conditions.

When does it come into force and how long will it last?

The new state of alarm measures came  into force the moment the order was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on Sunday afternoon.

The Cabinet approved it for 15 days, in line with the Constitution. But to extend it beyond that needs the approval of the Congress and Sanchez has announced that he will seek to

Is this a return to lockdown like Spain had in March?

Absolutely not. This time the measures are not nearly as strict as those introduced in March when residents were confined to their home and only allowed outside to buy supplies, seek medical help etc.

Sanchez insists the government wants to avoid a repeat of the strict lockdown and that limiting social interaction and movement between territories will be sufficient to curbing the spread of the virus and bring the infection rate under control.  

Calling a state of alarm is a legal measure that allows special

What is the curfew?

A curfew – known as 'toque de queda' in Spanish – is now in place across all of Spain (apart from the Canary Islands) that means people are not allowed to be on the street or visiting any else’s home without a justified reason.

The government has set the curfew between 11pm and 6 am but allows regions to shift it by an hour either side.

Justified reasons include coming or going to the workplace, seeking emergency medical treatment (for you or your pet), collecting medical supplies, visiting a dependant who needs caring for.

The measure also states that you can use fuel stations during curfew hours if needed to carry out trips for justified reasons.

Curfews are mandatory across all of Spain (except the Canary Islands) until at least November 9th when it will be up to the regions to decide whether to keep them in place.

Is there a penalty for breaking curfew?

Spain's various police forces will have the power to stop those found to be breaking curfew and to issue fines to those who don't have a justified reason for doing so.

Fines could be between €600 and €600,000 depending on the severity of the breach. 

Do I need a document to prove justification?

Some regions have already produced justification forms to show at checkpoints if entering or leaving a confined zone or breaking curfew. This is the one for Catalonia and this is the one for Madrid.

Keep any details of medical/vet treatment, pharmacy receipts or work authorised statement to prove that your reason for being outside the home is valid. 

If going to visit a dependent person who you need to care for, police may accompany you to determine that case is valid. 

Always carry photo ID and it will help if you have your padron document or residence card with up to date address to prove where you live.

What are the limits on social gatherings?

The state of alarm limits social meetings to a maximum of six people both in private places and public spaces, unless they live together under the same roof across Spain except the Canary Islands. But the regional governments have the authority to lower the maximum number allowed in a social gathering. Galicia has already set a limit of five.

Are bars and restaurants still open? 

Yes, as long as the restaurants and bars are closed and shut up ahead of curfew then you can still visit them, allow there are limits on capacity and groups must be a maximum of six people.

Regional authorities may decide to impose their own restrictions on hostelry businesses. Catalonia last week made the decision to to close all bars and restaurants except those serving take-away.

Q&A: What you can and can't do under Catalonia’s new restrictions


What about other restrictions put in place by regional authorities? 

The State of Emergency framework allows for individual regions to apply their own restrictions based on epidemiolgical data in each area. So in Catalonia the closure of all restaurants and bars except those serving take-away food will stay in place. 

Can we still travel?

That is to be determined by each regional authority who can decide to introduce perimeter confinements of a whole region, province, municipality or healthcare zone depending on the epidemiological situation. There are currently more than 76 municipalities with perimeter confinements in place as well as the entire regions of Navarra and La Rioja. 

Madrid has introduced limitations on 32 basic healthcare zones within 11 different municipalities across the region including parts of the capital. 



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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.