CORONAVIRUS

Madrid and Barcelona will request to move to Phase 2 of coronavirus deescalation plan

Most regions are asking the central government for permission to enter the last stage before the beginning of the so-called “new normality”

Local customers sit in a restaurant next to a beach in Barcelona.
Local customers sit in a restaurant next to a beach in Barcelona.EMILIO MORENATTI / AP

Most regional authorities in Spain are requesting to move to a new stage of the coronavirus deescalation plan. The Madrid government will ask that the entire region enter Phase 2, while the Catalan government will request that the city of Barcelona and its metropolitan areas move to this stage. Most of the other regions want to move on to Phase 3, the last step before “the new normality.” The Spanish Health Ministry has until Friday to announce its decision.

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If the central government gives the green light, the Madrid region and Barcelona – some of the areas hardest hit by the outbreak in Spain – will see more lockdown conditions relaxed from June 8, when the next phase change is scheduled to take place. Under Phase 2, regions are able to decide whether or not classes should restart in schools, social gatherings of up to 15 people are allowed, and there are no restrictions on outdoor activity.

Under Phase 3, sidewalk cafes can open at 75% capacity, bars can reopen with safe distancing measures in place, and social gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed. Most crucially, the central government will let regional authorities take control of the deescalation process and decide how long this last period should last. The central government retains control over mobility issues.

Only the Canary Islands of El Hierro, La Gomera and La Graciosa, and the Balearic Island of Formentera, are currently in Phase 3. But more than half of the country may soon be joining the islands, if the central government approves the requests.

According to the coronavirus deescalation plan, each stage must be in place for at least 14 days. Some regional authorities, however, will ask to accelerate this process so that the entire region can move to the next stage after just one week.

Andalusia. The government in the southern region of Andalusia will ask that all of its provinces move to Phase 3 on Monday. This would accelerate the deescalation process in Málaga and Granada, which only entered Phase 2 this week.

Catalonia. The regional government in Catalonia will ask that the city of Barcelona and its metropolitan area, as well as Lleida, be moved to Phase 2. Every other area will apply for Phase 3 status. The Lleida healthcare area hopes to move forward after being held back due to a few outbreaks. According to the health department, PCR lab tests are being carried out on “the immense majority” of suspected cases, and there are plans in place for workers who have recently arrived for the fruit-picking season.

Madrid. The Madrid government will request that the entire region move to Phase 2 of the coronavirus deescalation plan. The region was initially held back due to a high coronavirus case count and lack of preparedness to test and trace cases at the primary healthcare level.

Valencia. The eastern region of Valencia entered Phase 2 on Monday. The regional government is the only one not asking to move to Phase 3, in observance of the two-week time period recommended for each stage.

Galicia. Regional authorities in Galicia will ask that the entire region move to Phase 3 on June 8. The Galician government also wants to allow movement between the four provinces in the region. This is a decision that the regional premier, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will be able to take once the central government returns powers back to the region under Phase 3. Feijóo has also called for the borders between Galicia and the region of Asturias, and between Galicia and neighboring Portugal, to be reopened, given that they have a “compatible” epidemiological situation.

Castilla y León. Only the healthcare area of El Bierzo entered Phase 2 on Monday, and it is hoped that it will transition to Phase 3 next week. The government of Castilla y León will ask that the rest of the region move to Phase 2.

Basque Country. Basque authorities will request that the entire region move to Phase 3 of the deescalation plan. At that point, regional premier Íñigo Urkullu will be able to choose the pace of deescalation. The Basque government is practically certain that starting on Monday of next week, citizens will be able to move freely across the three provinces. But Urkullu also wants more flexibility at the French border so that residents of the province of Gipuzkoa and those of the Basque area of France may also be allowed to cross into each other’s territory.

Canary Islands. The larger islands (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura) want to enter Phase 2. Meanwhile El Hierro, La Gomera and La Graciosa, which are already in Phase 3, could enter the “new normality,” although this would not mean a lot of changes, as these islands are sparsely populated and there is no need to limit capacity at public venues. The pressing issue for them is when residents will be free to travel between islands, and when tourists will be allowed back. This is expected on July 1.

Castilla-La Mancha. The region has been split, with the provinces of Guadalajara and Cuenca a week ahead of the others. Now, regional authorities want everyone to move forward together into Phase 3.

Murcia. The southeastern region wants to enter Phase 3, save possibly for the area around the town of Totana, which recently experienced an outbreak. Regional authorities are also wary of domestic travel between the different regions of Spain.

Aragón. The entire region will apply for Phase 3 despite an outbreak in Fraga (Huesca).

Balearic Islands. The island of Formentera is already in Phase 3, and the government will request the same status with the rest of the archipelago, which includes the popular Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. The Balearics will participate in an early project to start welcoming tourists starting on June 21.

Extremadura. Regional authorities will apply for Phase 3 status.

Asturias. The regional government will request Phase 3 status. There are two outbreaks in senior residences in Gijón and Oviedo, but they are considered to be under control.

Navarre. The regional government is applying for Phase 3.

Cantabria. This region is also applying for Phase 3.

La Rioja. The regional government wants to move up to Phase 3.

Ceuta and Melilla. The exclave city of Ceuta has decided to remain in Phase 2 for one more week out of caution, after registering an outbreak at several parties with up to 80 guests. Melilla, Spain’s other city on the northern coast of Africa, is applying for Phase 3.

With reporting by S. Vizoso, V. Vadillo, C. Vázquez, L. J. Varo, J. A. Cañas, P. Gorospe, E. de Benito and E. Saiz.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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