What’s new in Spain?June 4, 2020
Spain is in the midst of deescalating its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The state of alarm has been extended until 21 June 2020. With 17 autonomous communities and 52 provinces within those communities, the plan involves each province progressing through four phases – phase 0 to phase 3. Each phase is expected to last a minimum of two weeks and at the end of each two-week period, depending on its epidemiological situation, each province will advance to the next phase, stay put, or regress to a previous phase. Provinces are advancing at different paces, therefore not all of Spain is running at the same speed. Given this, the new normal for the whole of Spain is likely not to be reached until the end of June at the earliest.
There are a number of provinces still in phase 1, but most are in the penultimate phase 2. Our previous article here highlights the original measures put into place for each phase, but since then there have been new and updated measures announced. Taking the example of social gatherings and public places, what has changed?
Socialising and public places
Under the original measures, small businesses and hotels could open. Semi-public areas, such as outside seating areas and shopping malls, could not. Now, shopping malls can open at 40% capacity and all shops under 400 square metres can open. Outside seating areas have also reopened, limited to 30% capacity in phase 1 and 50% in phase 2. However, with the exception of supermarkets, shops over 400 square metres cannot reopen yet.
Speaking of supermarkets, everybody can go grocery shopping at any time of the day. Outside of this, changes have been made to the restrictions placed on the time allowed for going for a walk outside. Originally, no one was allowed to leave their homes. After six weeks, children were permitted to go outside once a day for a few hours. The time limits have now all but disappeared in phase 2, with the exception of 10am to 12pm and 7pm to 8pm, slots reserved for people over the age of 69. That is not to say that those over 69 cannot go for a walk outside of these hours, nor that those under 70 cannot go for a walk at these times. It is the suggestion of the government that the general public respect that rule.
Social gatherings were initially permitted in the measures introduced at the beginning of lockdown, however the parameters of the numbers of people who could meet were still to be determined. Now up to 10 people can meet in phase 1 and 15 people in phase 2. If people want to walk together on the beach they can do so, but in phase 1 this is all they can do on the beach. No sitting. No swimming in the sea. In phase 2, people can do as they please at the beach.
People wearing face masks is a common sight throughout Spain. People taking walks, those going shopping, children playing in a playground, everybody wears a face mask. It is socially unacceptable not to wear a face mask in public. That makes it even more strange that when people sit down at a table in an outdoor seating area, either on their own or in groups, with a table separating them, they tend to remove their face masks. This is the general experience throughout Spain. It is almost as if the table itself holds the power of protection against the virus. It would be interesting to observe what would happen if the table was removed from the equation.
The aforementioned examples take into account only two categories of the measures in place, but changes have been made across all sectors, including travel and education. So far, Spain’s attempt to flatten the curve and reignite the economy has been a gradual success. It remains to be seen how the rest of the deescalation process will unfold, but we are hopeful that Spain will reach some state of normality over the next few months.