Although it has already become a common sight on Spanish streets during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, from this Monday whole families and groups of friends will officially be allowed to take walks or exercise together under the government’s coronavirus deescalation plan. Under Phase 1, this will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people, and under Phase 2, in groups of up to 15.
That’s according to the Official State Gazette (BOE) published on Saturday, which eliminates the restrictions in place until now that allowed just one parent out onto the street with up to three children, or two adults who live under the same roof. The latest BOE also removes the rule that sports activities could only be practiced individually.
From Monday onward, as all of Spain moves into at least Phase 1 – some areas will be in Phase 2 – people who take walks or exercise together will still be required to stay two meters apart from those they do not live with, and follow hygiene requirements, such as regular hand-washing and the use of masks when social distancing is not possible.
The BOE also includes measures for Phase 2 related to the reopening of academies and driving schools, and leaves in the hands of Spain’s regions the decision as to whether or not to reopen schools. The text also regulates the use of beaches under the deescalation plan.
From Monday, the regions of Madrid, Castilla y León and Valencia, as well as most of Catalonia and the provinces of Ciudad Real, Toledo, Albacete, Granada and Málaga, will all be in Phase 1.
Under this stage of the deescalation plan, building work in properties that are being lived in will no longer be prohibited, while the opening of shopping malls will be made more flexible. Stores in malls will be able to open provided that they measure under 400 square meters, or they demarcate an area of that size for customers. They will also require an independent, direct access point from outside of the shopping mall in which they are located.
Museums will be able to decide how many people to let in, within a range of 30% to 50% of normal capacity.
The areas of Spain moving to Phase 2 on Monday are: The Canary and Balearic Islands, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Navarre, Aragón, Extremadura, Guadalajara, Cuenca, Murcia, all of Andalusia apart from Málaga and Granada, Terres de l’Ebre (Tarragona), Camp de Tarragona (Tarragona), Alt Pirineu-Aran (Lleida), and the Spanish exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
Under this phase, the BOE sets out new conditions for the use of beaches. Towels, sun loungers and personal objects will have to be laid out in a way “that guarantees a security perimeter of two meters with regard to other users, apart from bathers who are cohabitating.”
Shared sun loungers will have to be cleaned and disinfected between uses. Open-air showers and foot-washes will be permitted for use, as will bathrooms, changing rooms and other similar public services. Only one person at a time will be able to use such facilities, unless that person requires assistance.
Also under Phase 2, local councils will be able to establish access limits and control the number of people on beaches in order to guarantee a two-meter distance can be observed, as well as establishing time limits both on the sand and in car parks. The order specifies that access to beaches must always be free of charge. To calculate the maximum capacity of a beach, each bather is considered to occupy approximately four square meters.
Under Phase 2, regions will also be able to decide whether or not classes should restart in schools
The Health Ministry is also authorizing the regions to establish limits for the number of people allowed in bars, restaurants and terraces, albeit between 30% and 50% of their usual capacity.
Nature parks will be able to reopen under Phase 2 at 20% of their usual capacity, as well as cable cars, provided that passengers are limited to 50% of the allowed capacity, and there is at least one seat free between people or groups who do not live together.
The order also permits regional governments to set out the requirements for visits to residents in supervised housing, homes for the disabled and senior residences, as well as the rules for walks by residents. Previous BOEs had set out requirements for prior appointments for such visits, and prohibited visits to seniors, and did not mention walks.
Under Phase 2, regions will also be able to decide whether or not classes should restart in schools. Regional governments will be able to decide if schools should continue with distance and online teaching.
Until now, the reopening of schools and daycare was only being considered for two years of high school students and for children aged between zero and six years old whose parents cannot work from home. The regions had already warned the government, however, that they would prefer to reopen schools in September.
Also under Phase 2, driving classes can restart, albeit with masks being obligatory inside the vehicle, as well as cleaning and disinfection of the latter before and after each use.
Phase 1 summary – what is permitted?
Timetables for taking walks and other exercise will still be in place, although regions will be able to adapt them according to factors such as hot weather. These timetables do not apply to municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.
Social gatherings of up to 10 people outside or in people’s homes, as long as social distancing measures are respected and masks are worn. Groups of up to 10 people can enjoy activities of active tourism or nature walks.
Citizens can travel to second homes provided they are in the same province, island or territorial unit of residence. Citizens can move freely in their territory, province or island.
Small businesses with premises measuring below 400 square meters can serve customers with safety measures in place, without the need for a prior appointment and limiting capacity to 30%. Larger businesses can demarcate a 400-square-meter area for customers. There must be a priority timetable to serve the over-65s.
Outdoor markets may operate but with a third of usual capacity and 25% of normal stands.
Cultural events involving under 30 people can be held indoors at a third of capacity, while for outdoor events capacity rises to 200 people.
Sidewalk cafés and restaurant terraces can open at 50% capacity, and single-use products must be prioritized.
Places of worship may open at 30% capacity. Objects must not be shared during services.
Car dealerships can reopen using appointment systems, while ITV vehicle testing centers can also reopen, as can garden centers, regardless of their size.
Non-professional sports are allowed if they involve activities that do not require physical contact or the use of locker rooms.
Schools can reopen for essential maintenance tasks.
Hotels and tourist accommodation can open as long as they keep common areas such as buffet rooms closed.
Sports fishing and hunting activities are permitted.
Museums may open at a third of capacity
Funeral services may be held with “a limited amount” of mourners
Phase 2 summary – what is permitted?
Walks and sport. Everyone under the age of 70 can take walks and physical activity during the day, with just one timetable restriction: 10am to 12pm and 7 to 8pm are reserved for seniors aged over 70.
Social contact. The number of people who can meet for social purposes, either in public or in a home, is increased to 15, while the limit of people for active and nature tourism activities is increased to 20. Congresses, business meetings and conferences are allowed provided there are no more than 50 attendees, with two-meter social distancing observed.
Mobility. Citizens are permitted to move freely within their province, island or territorial unit, including to their second homes.
Businesses. Stores can open independently of their size, albeit with capacity limited to 40%. There must be priority timetables for the over 65s.
Markets. Open-air markets are permitted with a third of normal stands.
Shopping malls. Shopping malls can reopen, provided capacity is limited to 30% of common areas and 40% in each of the commercial premises located inside. Customers will not be allowed in common areas, apart from to move from one store to another.
Hostelry. Bars and restaurants can reopen their interior dining areas, apart from nightclubs and nighttime bars, provided capacity is limited to 40%. Dining inside can only take place sat at a table, or groups of tables, and preferably via prior appointment. Self-service at a bar is not permitted. Sidewalk cafés and restaurants will continue at 50% of capacity.
Hotels. The common areas of hotels and tourist accommodation can reopen their common areas, provided capacity is limited to a third.
Cinemas and theaters. All cinemas, theaters, auditoriums and similar spaces can reopen, provided that seats are pre-assigned and capacity is limited to a third.
Concerts. At open-air concerts, the public must be seated, observing social distancing, with capacity at a third and limited to 400 people.
Places of worship. Capacity will be limited to 50% in all places of worship.
Funeral wakes. These can take place in public or private installations, with a limit of 25 people when in the open air, and 15 people in closed spaces.
English version by Simon Hunter.