Spain's Health Ministry proposed extending social gatherings to ten people from the current six limit to celebrate Christmas and New Year and will delay the curfew to 1.30 am.
Thes proposals prepared by the Health Ministry to cover the festive period which in Spain lasts from Christmas Eve until Three Kings Day on January 6th were approved by a committee of regional authorities on Wednesday afternoon,
The plan emphasises the 6M rule that recommends that social gatherings are limited to households or a maximum of six people for those not living under the same roof and that they follow what has been termed “6M” – the six rules to limit coronavirus infection risk.
These are Mascarilla (wearing a facemask), Manos (regular washing of hands) Metros (maintaining a social distance of 1.5 metres) Maximizar ventilacion (maximum ventilation either by meeting outside or keeping windows and doors open), Minimizar numero de contactos (minimizing the number of people in social groups) and “Me quedo en casa” (staying at home when you show symptoms, have tested positive or been in contact with someone who has).
?Estas navidades debemos modificar ciertas costumbres para garantizar la seguridad y el control de la pandemia
¿Conoces las #6M?
? Máxima ventilación
?Me quedo en casa si tengo síntomas#MedidasNavidad
¡Dentro hilo! pic.twitter.com/VvLKdcGgLN
— Ministerio de Sanidad (@sanidadgob) December 2, 2020
However, the plan will allow meetings of up to ten people to celebrate lunches and dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day extending the limit from a maximum of six which is set for all other social gatherings at other times.
The 10-person limit includes children, and the official recommendation is for people from the same household to celebrate together without outside guests.
“It is desirable that people restrict their mobility and social contacts as much as possible,” Illa said, encouraging people not to move despite the loopholes. “To sum it up, this Christmas we stay at home.”
Under the plan, each autonomous community in Spain will be required to close their borders to limit movement between December 23rd and January 6th.
But the plan includes “travelling to visit family and close friends” as a valid reason to cross perimetral confinements adding to the list of justifications that include travelling to work or to a place of study, seeking medical treatment or to meet an administrative or legal appointment.
This is an added concession from a first draft proposed last week by Health Minister Salvador Illa but he did not explain how this would measure would be policed, and what proof could be shown that a trip was for family reasons rather than tourism purposes.
Another difference to the original draft a week ago is the removal of a clause that would have allowed the traditional race of San Silvestre, a run which takes place on New Year’s Eve in cities across Spain. Instead, the proposal states: “”No major sporting events can be held and virtual participation versions are recommended instead.”
The plan also sees the cancellation of the traditional cabalgatas – the Three Kings parades that take place across Spain on the evening of Jan 5th – in order to avoid crowds and instead replace with static events that can be broadcast on television.
It also recommends that events that draw crowds, such as “campanadas” – the ringing in the New Year in public squares such as Puerta del Sol when according to tradition a grape is consumed on each chime at midnight, be instead celebrated “virtually” by staying at home and watching on television.
The plans include provisions for elderly relatives who live in residential homes to visit their family at Christmas as long as the visit is “restricted to a single address and maintains a stable coexistence bubble.”
Upon return to their residential home it recommends carrying out a PCR and to take extreme measures of prevention and surveillance in the following days.
University students returning home for the holidays are advised to limit their social interactions for ten days prior to their visit home to limit the risk of infection.
The national curfew will remain in place throughout the period with times set by regional authorities but with the exception that on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, the curfew be delayed until 1.30am to allow people an extra hour to get home.
Other traditional activities held around Christmas in Spain such as Nativity Scenes and Christmas concerts will be allowed to go ahead as long as social distancing can be guaranteed and occupation limited to 50 percent of the usual capacity.
The proposal allows restaurants to be open over the festive period but with the same limits that are currently in place; limited capacity and maximum of six people per table.
Regional governments may also enforce additional measures over the holidays such as confining people within municpalities depending on the epidemiological evolution of the coronavirus within their territories.