Coronavirus in Spain: a round-up of the most important news ahead of Easter

There’s a lot of Covid-19 news in Spain in the lead up to the Easter break, with everything from restrictions to infection rates deciding the Spanish government’s next moves. Here are six key facts you need to know about the current state of affairs.

Coronavirus in Spain: a round-up of the most important news ahead of Easter
Three siblings hang out on their Semana Santa-decorated balcony in the Andalusian town of Ronda during Easter in 2020. Photo: Jorge Guerrero, Gabriel Buoys/AFP

Health Ministry considering tighter Easter restrictions

The interiors of bars and restaurants in the autonomous communities of Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Navarra, Asturias, Ceuta and Melilla will have to close, if the government’s proposal to toughen restrictions is successful. The proposal states that any region that has a cumulative incidence rate of more than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants would have to close the interiors of their bars and restaurants for 14 days. Several regions are against the new proposal, however, particularly the health ministers for Madrid and Galicia, who have both voiced their disagreement. No decision has been made yet, so bars and restaurants can stay open under current regional restrictions. 

READ ALSO: UPDATE: These are the new restrictions for regions across Spain 

Tourists are already arriving; EU has asked for ‘coherence’

The European Commission has called on Spain for ‘coherence’ in its policies regarding domestic and international travel restrictions. Already, German tourists have been arriving in Spain for the Easter holidays, while residents in Spain are prohibited from leaving their province or region. “The recommendation clearly states that, given that transmission and risk are similar for national and cross-border journeys, member states should ensure there is coherence between the measures applied to the two types of journey,” the EU spokesperson for rule of law, Christian Wigand, told Spain on Monday, March 22nd.

Rules frustrate many Spaniards who can’t travel

Many Spaniards and Spanish residents are frustrated that they will be unable to travel to other regions or second homes over Easter, with all of the country’s autonomous communities, minus the Canaries, having agreed to close their borders. However, people from other EU countries will be able to travel and visit their second homes as Spain’s borders remain open to other EU residents. Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón told journalists that it’s “incongruous” that foreign tourists and second homeowners can travel to Spain but residents won’t be able to cross regional borders during the Easter break. “How would you explain to Spaniards that foreigners can come to their second homes in Spain and they can come on holiday but Spaniards cannot go to their second homes?”, he said.

UK variant most dominant strain in Spain now

The new Covid-19 variant that was first detected in the UK, now accounts for half of all new cases said Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Wednesday, March 24th. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is thought to be around 30 to 70 percent more contagious than the previous strain that was being spread in Spain. Darias warned that there will be a “possible change in trend” in Spain as the Covid incidence rates begin to rise once again.

AstraZeneca vaccine rollout resumes

Spain resumed vaccinating with AstraZeneca on Wednesday, March 24th after the temporary suspension due to fears of blood clots. The Spanish Health Ministry restarted the rollout after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the vaccine was “safe and effective” and that “its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19 hugely outweigh the risks”. After the news, Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System decided on Monday, March 22nd to extend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those up to 65 years old, instead of those up to 55, which was their previous policy.

The AstraZeneca vaccine in Spain is mainly being used on key workers such as teachers, police and those healthcare workers not working directly with Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: IN STATS: How the AstraZeneca suspension is affecting Spain’s vaccine rollout

The incidence rate rises in 13 regions

The Covid-19 cumulative incidence rate has risen in 13 of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities after the steady decline in recent weeks, causing concern for many health authorities, ahead of Easter. According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Health, cases have risen in Navarra by 8.3 percent, in La Rioja by 4.95 percent, in the Basque Country by 3.4 percent and in Madrid by 3.2 percent. The other nine communities have incidence rates that have risen between 0.1 percent and 2.3 percent.

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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?