A practical guide for going out on the Spanish streets from today

After 48 days of quarantine, residents of Spain will from Saturday be able to get out of the house for walks and exercise in the open air, but only observing certain timetables and according to age

A cyclist in Vitoria, northern Spain this morning.
A cyclist in Vitoria, northern Spain this morning.LINO RICO
Elena G. Sevillano

In reality, the deescalation of coronavirus measures in Spain is yet to begin. The country is still in what the government has classed as Phase 0, i.e. the population remains confined and economic and commercial activities are practically halted. But today, Saturday, the slow advance toward normality – or at least a situation that resembles what existed before – will begin. First children were allowed out with an adult or older sibling, and from today the entire population will be permitted to take a walk or other exercise once a day, with the aim of preventing physical and mental health from deteriorating. The confinement measures had been in place in Spain for 48 days by Friday.

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Spaniards take to the streets for exercise after 48 days of confinement

This new measure will stand until each of Spain’s provinces enters Phase 1, something that is due to happen on Monday on four of Spain’s islands – Formentera, El Hierro, La Graciosa and La Gomera – and in some provinces and islands from May 11 onward. Those that still do not meet the epidemiological criteria – low numbers of coronavirus cases – and the readiness of their health systems – among others, the ability to carry out PCR tests on all suspected cases, isolating them and testing all of their contacts – will have to wait.

The trips outside from today onward will have to be done according to timetables in order to avoid crowds, but this will not be the case in municipalities with fewer than 5,000 people, which will have no set times for each activity. The regulations, which were published on Friday in the Official State Gazette (BOE), include a restriction on taking a journey in a vehicle or public transport to the place that the walk or exercise will be taken.

Walks and other physical exercise. From 6am to 10am and from 8pm to 11pm. These times are for those aged 14 and over. If people opt for a walk, they can do so with one other person with whom they live, but they can go no further than a one kilometer radius of their residence. This restriction does not apply to those practicing sport, such as running or cycling, who must practice these activities alone and stay within their municipality.

Seniors and dependents. The times reserved for this section of the population are 10am to 12pm, and 7pm to 8pm. During these times only those older than 70 may take to the streets, and can be accompanied by a person with whom they live aged between 14 and 70. Also permitted out are dependents who need a carer with them.

Walks with children. These rules remain the same as those established last week for the under-14s, but the times allowed have been reduced to 12pm to 7pm. They can only go out accompanied by a parent or carer, or older sibling, as previously permitted. Walks involving the whole family are still not allowed. In a family with two parents and two under 14s, the parents could technically go out for a walk together in the times allocated to adults, providing the children are mature enough to be left alone at home; the four of them would not, however, be permitted to go out together during the times for children.

A walk or sport? Walks are limited to a kilometer from the residence and sport is limited to the municipality. But the BOE does not provide more information. “Will we all go out in tracksuits so that we can go further than a kilometer?” people have jokingly asked on social media. Physical activity “must be carried out in a continuous manner avoiding unnecessary stops on roads or in areas of public use,” the BOE reads. If a stop must be made, it must be “strictly for the time necessary,” it continues. The rules go into no more detail.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that there may be checks on people’s behavior, as has been the case up until now. And, as Health Minister Salvador Illa pointed out, the falling trend in coronavirus infections depends on how citizens behave from now on, with each having to take individual responsibility for observing the rules. The BOE does not enter into details about how people will be stopped from going for walks twice a day. The Health Ministry has appealed to the common sense of citizens.

Training far from home. Those who practice sports will not be able to use any mode of transport to, for example, reach a park far from their home where they want to run or train with a bicycle. They will have to do so in a place they can reach on foot or with their bicycle, always staying within their municipality. The shared bicycles available for use in many Spanish cities cannot be used to do sport.

Maintaining social distancing. This is the common rule. Those who live together present no risk when they go out onto the street together, but they do if they come too close to other people. Both with walks and with sport, “a minimum interpersonal distance of at least two meters should be maintained with others.” The rules indicate that crowded areas should also be avoided.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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