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COVID-19

Five things you should be able to do when Spain’s state of alarm ends

With less than 48 hours for most existing Covid restrictions to cease to be applicable in Spain, we give you an overview of what you should in theory be able to do from May 9th onwards that you previously weren’t allowed to.

Five things you should be able to do when Spain's state of alarm ends
Taking a nighttime bike ride is just one of the things that will be possible across most of Spain after May 9th. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain’s estado de alarma, the state of emergency that has given regional authorities the power to swiftly introduce Covid restrictions, is set to end at the start of Sunday May 9th.

So as soon as Saturday May 8th comes to a close, many restrictions that have heavily influenced life in Spain in recent months will no longer be applicable, and regional governments will have to present new restrictions to a court for them to be approved first.

With less than two days left, Spain’s regions are deciding what their modus operandi will be post-state of alarm, with some leaning more towards keeping some restrictions in place and others embracing the easing of limitations (we will keep you updated on these when they are confirmed, so stay tuned).

What is for sure is that there won’t be a blanket lifting of every single Covid restriction in place now, nor will things remain exactly the same.  

May 9th will mark for most people in Spain a step towards regaining more of our fundamental rights during the ongoing pandemic, and there are certain freedoms which we will get to enjoy again from then on, to a greater or lesser extent depending on where you are.

You should be able to stay out later 

Curfews across Spain will be lifted automatically on Sunday May 9th and most Spanish regions have confirmed they will not contest this decision.

However, 6 of Spain’s 17 regions have asked their courts for permission to keep the curfew in place: the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, the Valencia region, Castilla-La Mancha, Navarra and the Canary Islands. 

Regional authorities in Andalusia and Madrid on the other hand have confirmed that the toque de queda (curfew) will be lifted and that bars and restaurants can stay open until midnight. In Andalusia, nightclubs will be able to open until 2am. Asturias has also announced it will let its bars stay open until later.

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

You should be able to meet up with more people

It’s unlikely that regions will allow a limitless number of people to gather, although in Madrid’s case Cabinet Minister of Health Enrique Ruiz Escudero has said any limit from May 9th onwards will be a “recommendation”.

The ban on meeting with people you don’t live with at home will also be lifted in Spain’s capital.

The Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Navarra and the Valencia region have already announced they want to keep some limits on social gatherings, although in Valencia’s case authorities are studying whether to go from 6 up to 10 people, a decision that Castilla-La Mancha is also currently debating.

What is likely is that limits on social gatherings as low as four are likely to be raised across all of Spain after the state of alarm.

Photo: Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

You should be able to travel across Spain more easily 

In general terms, from Sunday May 9th, the regional border closures that are still in place in some regions will be lifted and it will no longer be necessary to provide a force majeure reason for travel, therefore allowing for holidays. 

Most Spanish regions, including Andalusia, Aragón, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, the Valencia region and Extremadura have already announced they will lift perimetral and regional border closures. 

The Basque Country is the only region so far which is considering keeping some form of perimeter closure in place as it has one of the highest infection rates in Spain currently.

Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

You should be able to shop more easily and for longer

Limits to opening hours and people allowed in stores at any given time will also be lifted after the state of alarm.

So far, not many of Spain’s regions have clarified if they intend to appeal for these restrictions to be maintained. 

Extremadura and Madrid have announced they will increase the capacity limit for shops up to 75 percent. 

Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP

You should be able to eat or drink inside a bar, café or restaurant

There may still be limits on indoor seating come May 9th, but the majority of regions will at least allow bars, cafés and restaurants to open their indoor area, in many cases allowing them to open all together if they have no terrace.

Castilla y León has said that only in municipalities where the fortnightly infection rate is above 150 cases per 100,000 will interiors have to close. 

But unless there’s a sudden change of plans, enjoying a coffee or a meal indoors will be possible again across Spain, even if group numbers are likely to be smaller than for terrace seating and fewer tables can be used. 

Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

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COVID-19

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.

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