Madrid rolls out new Covid restrictions and bans socializing inside homes

New restrictions announced by the Community of Madrid will come into effect on Monday January 25th and include new rules about meeting inside homes, establishment closing times and limited table capacity at restaurants.

Madrid rolls out new Covid restrictions and bans socializing inside homes
Photo: AFP

One of the main new rules which will come into force on Monday is that no one will be able to meet inside each other’s homes, with the main exceptions being couples and single people who live on their own.

“Only people who live alone, who may be part of a single extended coexistence unit” may meet inside homes, the decree states.

To clarify, the decree also adds “Each unit of coexistence can integrate only one single person who lives alone too”.

It also says that the new rule does not apply to those couples who are in a relationship or are married and are not living together.

Others exempt from the new restriction of no meetings in the home include care assistants, those who accompany minors, the elderly, the sick, dependents and those with disabilities.

“Meetings of minors with their parents or legal guardians” are also allowed to meet inside homes, which could happen if the parents are divorced for example.

Another new rule for Madrid starting from Monday January 25th is that all establishments, venues and premises open to the public will have a legally authorised closing time and none will be allowed to stay open past 9pm.

The only exceptions will be pharmacies, health centres, veterinary clinics, food delivery services and petrol stations.

This new closing time does not apply to facilities that are not open to the public.

In restaurants and cafes, only a maximum of four per table will be allowed and leisure centres and shopping malls will have a reduced capacity of 50 percent.  

Madrid authorities also added to the number of healthcare zones with perimetral confinements across Madrid bringing the total to 56. 

To check which zones are restricted click on the interactive map below:

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are updated Covid-19 rules for regions across Spain

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Spain announces end of public transport face mask rule

Spain's Health Minister has announced that in the coming days masks will no longer be mandatory on planes, buses, trains, taxis and other means of public transport.

Spain announces end of public transport face mask rule

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday confirmed that face masks would no longer be compulsory on public transport, a measure which has been in place in Spain for almost three years. 

“I will raise the proposal of eliminating the mandatory use of masks on public transport”, she said, adding that next week she will convene with the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System to “put this measure into effect”.  

Darias did not specify exactly when this would happen, although government agreements are usually approved the following day in the Official State Gazette (BOE), so the official end to the mask rule looks set to be on February 8th.

The minister did clarify however that masks would still be mandatory in health settings such as health centres and hospitals “as health experts advise”. 

Last week, Darias reported the possibility of eliminating the mandatory mask rule in pharmacies, but this is currently being “weighed up” by health experts.  

Manuel Franco, an expert in Public Health and a member of the Spanish Society of Public Health and Sanitary Administration (Sespas) explained that “the World Health Organisation (WHO) is already considering the decision to lift the public health emergency warning for Covid-19” and adds that “if this goes ahead, it would make no sense to maintain the mask rule”.  

The use of masks ceased to be mandatory outdoors almost a year ago, on February 10th, 2022.

Then, two months later on April 20th, the government announced they wouldn’t be required indoors either, except in health centres and on public transport. 

The latest bulletin of Sentinel Surveillance of Acute Respiratory Infection in Primary Care (ARIs) and in Hospitals (SARI), announced a drop in infections and hospitalisations and said that the rates for Covid-19 remain stable.

The decision to end the mask rule in February comes after health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health said that masks should no longer be required on public transport

On Wednesday, January 25th the director of the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre of the Ministry of Health (CCAES), Fernando Simón, assured that the end of the mask rule on transport would be announced “shortly” either “next week or the following”.  

Then, on Thursday morning, government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, stated that the decision to remove the mask on public transport would be taken “immediately, when possible”, but pointed out that the government was looking at the situation in China first.