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REMINDER: What are the new Covid restrictions in Spain’s Valencia region?

If you live in or are soon visiting Alicante, Valencia or Castellón, these are the new eased restrictions for the coastal region starting on Monday May 24th 2021.

REMINDER: What are the new Covid restrictions in Spain's Valencia region?
Photo: Jose Jordán/AFP

The Comunidad Valenciana’s persistently low infection rate – currently 20 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days – has allowed regional authorities to ease coronavirus restrictions, some of the strictest in Spain since the start of the third wave in January.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re living in or visiting the Valencia region soon. 

Curfew

The curfew will remain in place in the region after May 24th but it will start later than previously, at 1am instead of midnight. That means that except for exceptional reasons, nobody can be outdoors from 1am to 6am. 

Valencian regional president Ximo Puig has stressed that if the epidemiological situation remains stable, the curfew – or toque de queda in Spanish – will be lifted as of June 7th.

Bars, cafés and restaurants

From Monday 24th, bars, restaurants and cafés can stay open until 12.30 am, one hour later than the previous closing time.

A capacity of 50 percent is allowed inside the premises and 100 percent on outdoor terraces. 

Sitting at the bar, smoking (including electronic cigarettes or hookahs) and dancing  indoors or outdoors are still prohibited.

Family and social gatherings

A limit of 10 people is established in public spaces both outdoors and indoors, except in the case of people who are living under the same roof. 

Inside homes and other private use spaces, the limit of 10 people also applies and only people from two households can gather.

Beaches and nature

The use of the mask is still mandatory when walking around on beaches, around swimming pools, lakes and other natural spaces.

However, as long as you can keep a distance of 1.5 metres with others, you will be allowed to take off your mask while sunbathing or sitting in one spot at the beach. 

If you’re going for a dip in the sea, you don’t have to wear a mask as it’s incompatible with swimming, whereas if you’re going for a stroll along the shore you do have to keep your mask on. 

Groups at the beach, swimming pool or in nature cannot exceed ten people.

Celebrations and events

The capacity is increased up to 75 percent for activities relating to celebrations, events or gatherings of a sporting, cultural or social nature, as well as for political rallies.

In churches and other places of worship it’s still important to abide by a safe distance of 1.5 metres between gatherers.

In enclosed spaces, a maximum of 3,000 people are allowed, while in open spaces, the limit is set at 4,000 people. 

In both cases, the capacity has to be separated into groups of 1,000 people each.

 In addition, eating and drinking will only be allowed in areas specially enabled for this purpose.

READ ALSO: 

How Spain’s Valencia region achieved one of Europe’s lowest infection rates

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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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