CORONAVIRUS

Health Ministry will allow social meetings of up to 10 people under Phase 1 of Spain’s deescalation plan

Provided that provinces meet the requisites, this stage should come into force on May 11 at the earliest

A woman in Madrid passes by posters advertising concerts that have been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.
A woman in Madrid passes by posters advertising concerts that have been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.Kiko Huesca / EFE

Sources from the Spanish Health Ministry on Saturday provided more details about the deescalation of coronavirus confinement measures, explaining that during Phase 1, which will begin on May 11 in provinces that meet the set requirements, up to 10 people will be able to meet either in the open air or in their homes, provided that they maintain an interpersonal distance of two meters. They will also be required to respect hygiene measures such as handwashing.

The use of cars during Phase 1 will also be subject to regulations. Vehicles will be permitted to be occupied by up to nine people, provided that they all live in the same home. If the occupants of a vehicle do not live together, a limit of one person in each row of seats will apply, and they will have to wear masks.

Under Phrase 3, citizens will be able to go to beaches provided they observe safety and distancing conditions

On public transport, passengers will have to try to observe the maximum interpersonal distance possible, and leave the row of seats behind the driver empty on buses.

During Phase 0 of the deescalation, which will begin on Monday, minor construction projects will be permitted, including the refurbishment of housing and commercial premises. Such work will have to be carried out in conditions that guarantee the safety of workers and residents, and they will not be permitted if there are people living in the said properties. Laborers will not be permitted to use the common areas of the building where the work is taking place.

Retail outlets of up to 400 square meters in size will have to offer timetables for the over-65s. These will coincide with the set time for walks for seniors, which from today run from 10am to 12pm, and 7pm to 8pm.

Purchases (not including food and other essential items) will have to be made within each person’s municipality, although in smaller areas where a certain item is not available, trips to nearby areas will be permitted.

Establishments will also have to be cleaned twice a day, all uniforms will have to be washed after their use, bathrooms cannot be used unless it is essential, and fitting rooms will have to be cleaned after each use.

Employees will not be able to work if they have coronavirus symptoms nor if they are in quarantine after having been in contact with someone who has Covid-19.

Here is a summary of what is known so far about the four phases:

Phase 0. This will involve the opening of “small chinks” of economic activity. Citizens will be able to book appointments at establishments where individual attention is possible, such as at the hairdressers or to collect food to take away from a restaurant.

Phase 1. This will begin on May 11 for provinces that meet the requirements, and will allow for social activities such as meetings in the home or on the street for up to 10 people. Sidewalk cafés can also reopen, albeit at 50% of their usual capacity. The government had proposed 30% but representatives from the sector complained given the effect this would have on their revenues. Hotels and tourist accommodation can also reopen for guests living in the same province, but common areas will be shut. Places of worship will reopen, while activity will also restart in the food and fishing sectors. Open-air markets will be limited to 25% of their usual capacity, while religious celebrations will be limited to 30%.

Phase 2. This will begin on May 25 in the provinces that meet the requirements, and will see restaurants return to serving at tables inside their establishments once more, albeit with limited capacity. Journeys to second residences will be allowed, provided they are in the same province. Cinemas and theaters will reopen with a third of their capacity. Cultural activities will be permitted with fewer than 50 people seated, while open-air events will be able to hold fewer than 400 people seated. Schools will reopen to offer support to parents of children aged under six who cannot work from home, as well as for those students preparing their university entrance exams.

Phase 3. This will begin on June 8 in areas that meet the requisites, and will see a reduction of capacity restrictions in hostelry, but the public will have to remain separated. Restrictions on mobility in general will be relaxed, and retail outlets will be able to allow customers to enter up to 50% of usual capacity. Nightclubs and bars will be able to open with a maximum of a third of their usual capacity. Citizens will be able to go to beaches provided they observe safety and distancing conditions.

The markers for each change of phase will depend on:

  1. The strategic capacity of Spain’s health system, including primary care, the situation in hospitals and the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds available.
  2. The epidemiological situation, including testing, the infection rate and other indicators.
  3. The collective compliance with protection measures in the workplace, businesses and public transport.
  4. The evaluation of mobility and socioeconomic data.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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