The Spanish government announced on Thursday evening the regions that have been given the green light to transition to a new phase of the government’s coronavirus deescalation plan.
Speaking at a press conference, Health Minister Salvador Illa indicated that “from Monday [June 1], 70% of the population will be in Phase 2, a little more than 32 million people, 30% will be in Phase 1, around 15 million people, and 45,000 people in Phase 3.”
The following areas will move to Phase 2: the entire region of Andalusia; the provinces of Ciudad Real; Albacete and Toledo in Castilla-La Mancha; the provinces of Málaga and Cuenca in Andalusia; Totana in Murcia; the healthcare areas in Girona and Cataluña Central, as well as Alt Penedès and El Garraf in Catalonia; and the healthcare area of El Bierzo in Castilla y León.
The following areas will move to Phase 3: the Balearic island of Formentera and the Canary islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa. According to the deescalation plan, under this stage, bars can reopen at 50% capacity and shoppers will be able to enter establishments until 50% of capacity has been reached. This is the last stage before what Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called “the new normality.”
Currently all of Spain is in at least Phase 1, which allows social gatherings of up to 10 people and sidewalk cafés to open at 50% capacity. The Madrid region moved to this stage on Monday after its request to relax restrictions was twice rejected by the central government.
According to the government’s deescalation plan, each phase must last for at least 14 days, although some regional authorities have requested permission to accelerate the process. The regional government in the Balearic Islands, for instance, asked that all four islands move to Phase 3 to allow residents to travel between the archipelago – a request that was denied.
The Madrid regional government did not request to move to Phase 2, but did ask the central government for permission to ease more of the lockdown restrictions. The regional authorities wanted students to be able to return to school to study for their university entrance exams and for the time slots allocated for outdoor activity to be removed. This request was also refused. Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, explained on Thursday that this decision was made given that the region did not meet the requirements on case tracing capacity and primary healthcare doctors.
“The Madrid region asked for some of the relaxation measures of Phase 2, as did other regions, but we are in favor of maintaining the measures that are allowed in each phase,” said Simón.
English version by Melissa Kitson.