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Spain in a State of Alarm (until May 24th)

A State of Alarm has been pronounced in all of Spain, effectively locking down the whole country. Military units will patrol the streets to enforce these new measures. Here is an outline of the new restrictions:

Why has the state of alarm been implemented?
To deal with the health situation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. According to Article 116.2 of the Spanish Constitution, the state of alarm can be declared “in all or part of the national territory, when there are health crises that involve serious alterations to normality.”

Which parts of Spain do the measures affect?
The declaration of the state of alarm went into action on Saturday night, and affects the whole of Spain for a period of 15 days. This 15 day period will go into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday morning (16/3/2020).

Which branch of the administration is in charge?
Under the state of alarm, the central government in Madrid has all powers. All security forces, including local and regional police forces, are under direct orders of Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The government will reserve the right to fine people who do not respect the restrictions, as is allowed under the 1981 law setting out the conditions of the state of alert.

What are the restrictions on movement?
During the state of alarm, citizens and vehicles will only be allowed to travel on public roads and streets for the following activities:
- The purchase of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and essential items.
- To attend health centers.
- To go to work or to provide employment services.
- To return to your usual residence.
- To assist and care for seniors, minors, dependants, the disabled, or people who are particularly vulnerable.
- In cases of force majeure or of necessity.
- Any other activity that is, by its nature, justified.
- Vehicles may take to the roads for any of the aforementioned activities, as well as to refuel at gas stations.

Limits to commercial activity, restaurants and leisure centers
All premises and establishments that carry out public-facing activity are closed, apart from those distributing foodstuffs and essential items. Cafés and restaurants are shut, but they will be able to deliver food to people’s homes. Public shows such as cinemas and theaters are closed, as well as sporting events, museums, etc. All local fiestas and marches are suspended.

Ceremonies and religious sites
Civil and religious ceremonies, and services in places of worship, including funerals, can go ahead provided that there are no large crowds and that attendees maintain a distance of one meter from one another.

Reinforcements for the health system
Military personnel and health installations will be used to strengthen the national health system across Spain. The Health Ministry will ensure that production centers for health supplies continue to operate, including the temporary intervention of companies, private health establishments and pharmaceutical sector centers.

How will transport and supplies be regulated?
Rail and bus services can be reduced by 50% by operating companies. The authorities will guarantee the circulation of goods across all of Spain. The supply of tickets for travel available for reservation will be reduced by a third. The government will guarantee the supply of electricity, gas and oil, and the protection of infrastructure that is critical to services.

Is the supply of foodstuffs guaranteed?
The authorities guarantee the production, storage, transport and distribution of foodstuffs to the consumer. When necessary, the transport of produce will be under escort, and routes will be established to allow for the circulation of personnel, raw materials and finished products.

Source: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-15/spains-state-of-alarm-the-key-measures-that-are-now-in-place.html

Posted by
1365 posts

Oh my Carlos, thanks for posting. I hope that our American friends, who have been traveling in Spain for several weeks, will be able to catch their flight - already cancelled from Monday and rescheduled to Tuesday - to "return to [their} usual residence."

Posted by
484 posts

Carlos, I just the alarming jump in the death rate...thank you for your updates. Stay well.

Posted by
1780 posts

I am currently in Los Angeles now, but I was set to travel back to Spain in a month to visit family, that's not happening now. I'm mainly worried for my family back in Spain and how they will cope with all of this, in the end I know these new restrictions are for the best.

I also see the dramatic rise in cases right here in California to also be disconcerting. I would not be surprised if we see something similar to these actions above in the USA in the very near future.

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1780 posts

Hope your family is OK in Spain!

Like 👍

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UPDATE (16/3/2020) - Spain to close its borders @ midnight tonight

The Minister of the Interior on Monday announced that Spain is officially closing its borders in a bid to deal with the coronavirus crisis. From midnight tonight, only Spanish citizens will be able to enter the country via land borders, as well as non-Spaniards who cite reasons of Force Majeure. Freight will still be able to enter the country in order to guarantee the supply of goods.

https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-16/spain-closes-its-borders-to-contain-coronavirus.html

Posted by
4 posts

Carlos,

Thank you for this information.
We are booked to travel to Spain in September.
We're hopeful that travel will be possible by then.
If not, we will make it to Spain one day.
In the meantime, take care of yourself and your family.
Judith Veerman

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1780 posts

Coronavirus turns Andalusia's buzzing streets into ghost towns (CNN)
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/21/europe/andalusia-coronavirus-diary-lister-intl/index.html

Here is an interesting article I found today on CNN, I think it details well the absolute transformation COVID-19 has had on Spanish society on the whole. We were so used to being out and about, our "living rooms" being the plazas and bars our towns. Especially hard hit is Andalucia, where this time last year they we all preparing for the joyous Semana Santa festivities, and now the streets, once filled with people on their evening paseo, are locked down with police roadblocks and military on patrol 😔

Posted by
72 posts

Well, up here in the North we also have fantastic Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities and processions, so this virus has affected the lives of millions of Spaniards. And will continue for another three weeks, at least.

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UPDATE (22/3/2020) - State of Alarm extended for another 15 days

In response to the spike in Coronavirus infections/deaths in Spain, the National State of Alarm has been extended for another 15 days, until April 11th. Last night, Prime Minister Sánchez spoke on national television, stating that this next week will be the most difficult for Spain, according to models estimating the spread of COVID-19 - “Unfortunately the number of diagnosed cases is going to rise in the coming days. The worst is yet to come, and it is pushing our capacities to the limit,” said the Prime Minister in a national televised address.

https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-03-22/spanish-government-to-extend-state-of-alarm-for-15-days.html

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2491 posts

Despite the "official" announcement of the Spanish government, among the health community and authorities here in Catalonia, the date of the end of April, at the very least, to end the quarantine is being already discounted. After that, depending on whether the curb of infections starts to decrease or not, there'll be the lifting of "some" restrictions, not all... BUT it's very unlikely it'll be "business as usual" so soon.

Posted by
882 posts

Being that Holy Week means many Spanish traveling, it was likely that the lockdown would be extended especially as deaths keep rising. Was impressed to see on many websites the government has a list of who could go out for what and where. Which workers were deemed necessary, custodial parent arrangements. This is what the US needs instead of state by state definitions. It is quite eerie to see no one on the streets especially as the streets are Spain's living room and one sees everyone out at night.

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UPDATE (27/3/20) - rate of infections begin to stabilise in Spain

Some good and bad news out of Spain today. While the number of COVID-19 deaths has tragically spiked in record numbers these past few days, there is new data that the transmission rate appears to be stabilising.

"Confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose to 64,059, a 14% increase compared with 18% a day earlier and 20% on Wednesday." Health Emergency Minister, Fernando Simón, continued that they showed a "clear stabilisation". He added: "It seems that we're approaching the long-awaited peak" in coronavirus infections, explaining that the number of cases had risen by a smaller percentage with respect to the past 15 days. “We have to be prudent with these figures. But it is a promising figure that gives certain hope,” said Simón.

BBC Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52060900

El Pais English Article (with graphs/data): https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-27/spain-records-highest-daily-rise-in-coronavirus-deaths-with-769-fatalities.html

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UPDATE (1/4/2020) - Spain continues stabilisation phase, State of Alarm measures working

Some good news today as Spain is now “effectively in a phase of stabilization, according to the data we have learned today," Salvador Illa, minister of Health, said in a press conference in Madrid on Wednesday. Illa cited the increase in the total number of cases (which includes deaths and recovered) at 8% as of today, the lowest percentage rise since Spain declared the state of emergency on March 14. Illa said the new figure is down from the average 20% rate recorded between March 15 and 25 and has been falling since.

Speaking earlier at the Spanish government’s daily coronavirus technical briefing, María José Sierra, an official from the country’s center for health emergencies, said the lower numbers help “evaluate the measures we’ve been taking very positively." Sierra said there were around 6,000 ICU beds in the country after “a lot of mobilization” to increase ICU capacity. She added that in many communities “ we are seeing less pressure on the ICUs."

Both Illa and Sierra urged caution, saying strict isolation measures need to continue. Spain’s government has come under criticism from opposition parties, some health workers and unions for reported shortages of ICU facilities, lack of sufficient personal protective gear and overstretched health workers.

You can read more here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-04-01/spains-emergency-coronavirus-measures-to-be-lifted-gradually.html

Posted by
5017 posts

Thank you for the updates, Carlos, and especially for the hopeful news. We are all hoping for the best and sending our positive thoughts your way.

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1780 posts

BBC Video - The staff battling Coronavirus in a Barcelona ICU

Here's an interesting video, posted by the BBC today, showing the behind the scenes of Spain's battle against COVID-19, from one of the largest hospitals in Spain - https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-52141272/the-staff-battling-coronavirus-in-a-barcelona-icu

"The head of the intensive care unit at one of Spain's biggest hospitals show us what staff are facing in the battle against coronavirus. The Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Catalonia says the overcrowding of patients in the ICU unit will be their biggest problem in the fight against Covid-19."

Posted by
102 posts

Carlos, thanks for the updates. We are in Cadiz and been here since February. We do hope to get out back to US in May. You were my "go to" when traveling through Spain a few years ago. We do have an apt here and travel back and forth now. I read the news but I also come here to see your posts. Stay safe and healthy.

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1780 posts

Thanks Sandy, you may also be interested in this video/article I came across today on CNN. It talks about the White Hill Town of Zahara de la Sierra and its unique response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, considering they are only about an hour from where you are now in Cádiz - https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/03/europe/zahara-de-la-sierra-coronavirus-intl/index.html

In short, the Mayor of this hilltop fortress town, blocked all but one of the town's five entrances, almost as if it was back in the medieval times during a siege! So far there has not been a single recorded case of Coronavirus in Zahara, unlike in other surrounding White Hill Towns.

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UPDATE (4/4/2020) - Spanish government to extend State of Alarm until April 26

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Saturday that the government intends to extend the state of alarm, which was declared three weeks ago in a bid to slow the Coronavirus outbreak, until April 26. The government has also been working on measures to soften the rules of the lockdown, such as implementing the generalized use of face masks among the public to allow people to leave their homes more often and return to some activities. The problem, however, is that there are not enough face masks for everyone in Spain – it is almost impossible to buy them at pharmacies or shops – meaning the measure could only be implemented once distribution is normalized.

Source: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-04-04/spanish-government-prepares-to-extend-state-of-alarm.html

In related news, the Health Ministry announced on Saturday that a total of 809 people in the country had died from the Coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a significant drop on the 932 fatalities recorded on Friday, and the lowest number of daily deaths seen in seven days. The number of new patients admitted to hospital has also fallen. On Saturday, a total of 57,612 patients required hospitalization, up 975 from Friday. On Thursday, that figure was 2,524. Meanwhile, 34,219 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 disease and have been discharged from hospital.

Source: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-04-04/spain-sees-sharp-drop-in-daily-coronavirus-deaths.html

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UPDATE (22/4/20) - State of Alarm extended until May 9th, followed by deescalation of lockdown measures

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made a televised address on Saturday evening to announce his latest measures during the coronavirus crisis. Among the changes to the current conditions announced by the prime minister were opportunities for children to leave the home under controlled circumstances from April 27. He also said that he would seek approval in Congress to extend the current state of alarm – which was first implemented on March 14 – to May 9, and that from May 11, there would be a “cautious and progressive” deescalation of confinement measures.

From May 11, Sánchez said, there will be a “cautious and progressive” deescalation of the confinement. “To do this, we will be guided by a series of markers that will warn us of the level of the spread of the virus and of the robustness of our health system so that we know the rate of progress of the pandemic in each region.” According to these parameters, he added, the deescalation measures will progress and if risks are identified they will be halted.

Source: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-04-18/spanish-pm-to-seek-extension-to-state-of-alarm-will-allow-children-to-leave-the-home-from-april-27.html

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UPDATE (26/4/20) - Spain may allow citizens out for walks on May 2 + proposed timeline for deescalation

Spaniards will be allowed to go out for exercise and for walks starting on May 2 if coronavirus contagion figures go down, said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at a news conference on Saturday night. This is the second time that the Spanish government has moved to ease strict confinement measures that have been in place since March 14. On Sunday, children under 14 were allowed out for an hour with an adult.

“If we act with prudence, this first relief measure will be followed by another one a week later,” said Sánchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), who leads a coalition government in partnership with the leftist Unidas Podemos. “If the evolution of the pandemic keeps moving in a positive manner, starting on May 2 outings will be allowed for individual activity and for walks with the people that we live with.”

The Prime Minister continued, stating that the deescalation of confinement measures will take place throughout May, “and we will see what happens in the month of June.”

Source: https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2020-04-25/spain-may-allow-confined-citizens-out-for-walks-on-may-2-says-pm.html

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UPDATE (6/5/20) - Spain’s Congress approves fourth extension to State of Alarm, now until May 24

The Congress of Deputies voted on Wednesday to extend the state of alarm in Spain for another 15 days, maintaining the emergency powers this situation gives the government to deal with the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), first implemented the state of alarm on March 14. Today’s extension is the fourth that has been authorized by Spain’s lower house of parliament.

Sánchez’s request for an additional period until May 24 was met with growing objections from the opposition, and the prime minister, who heads a minority government in coalition with junior partner Unidas Podemos, was forced into last-minute negotiations to secure the simple majority of more yes than no votes he needed in the 350-strong Congress.

Source: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-05-06/spanish-congress-approves-fourth-extension-to-state-of-alarm.html