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Spain’s Prime Minister announces COVID-19 deescalation measures and timeline

The transition to a “new normality” will last six to eight weeks (best case by the end of June) with continuing restrictions on travel to other provinces and Spanish islands:

Spain has opted for a different deescalation process of its coronavirus confinement measures compared to European partners such as France and Italy. The program, which has been officially dubbed the “Plan for the Transition toward a new normality,” will not have precise dates for the reopening of businesses, beaches or bars, as will happen in other countries, according to government sources. The executive, which has been retouching the plan right up until the last minute today during a long Cabinet meeting – which was delayed due to the final text arriving late – has opted for a different formula, based on four phases: 0, 1, 2 and 3

Phase 0 will begin on May 4, and will involve the reopening of small businesses such as restaurants that can offer food to take away, and places that can take bookings. This will include establishments such as hardware stores, government sources cited as an example. Customers would have to call and make an appointment to be able to buy a particular product. Only one customer would be permitted in the premises at a time and would be served by a sales clerk behind a screen or a counter.

Phase 1 would allow in each defined territory the partial reopening of small businesses under strict safety measures, but not large shopping malls, where big crowds could form, including the opening of hotels and tourist apartments, not including common areas. Cafés and restaurants will also be able to open their outdoor sidewalk sections under this phase, at 30% of capacity, but entry inside will not be permitted. Religious sites such as churches will be able to open in phase 1, with a limit of 30% of their capacity

Phase 2 will see hostelry establishments able to open their dining areas, at a third of their capacity. As for schools, they will not fully reopen until September, but Sánchez explained that they would offer a guarantee that children aged under six can attend classes if their parents have to go to work, and so that students can complete their university application processes and exams. Sports players will also have fewer restrictions under Phase 2. Cultural events will be possible with fewer than 50 people in interior spaces, and for open-air events, there will have to be 400 people or fewer, and they will have to be seated. Cinemas and theaters will also reopen under Phase 2, with a third of their capacity allowed to enter and assigned seating

Phase 3 will be the advanced phase once the required markers have been met, with cinemas and theaters allowing 50% of their capacity to enter, for example. General mobility will be relaxed, and it will still be recommendable to wear masks on public transport. Under Phase 3, the capacity of stores and other public-facing businesses will be limited to 50%, with an inter-personal distance of two meters. Restrictions will be further relaxed for bars and restaurants.

Prime Minster Sánchez added that “by the end of June, as a country we will be in the new normality if the evolution of the epidemic is under control in all territories,” he said. “This weekend individual physical activity [for adults] will be allowed, as will walks. On May 4, all territories will enter Phase 0, and given the low number of infections and if the progress allows for it, Formentera, the Balearics, Gomera, El Hierro and Graciosa in the Canary Islands will enter Phase 1 shortly after. Each phase will last at least two weeks, he said, which is the incubation period of the coronavirus, and in the best-case scenario, the process will last eight weeks in all of Spain.

Posted by
1236 posts

Interesting. I guess the big question will be how do countries deal with foreigners visiting especially from areas that are still dealing with a heavy toll.

Posted by
2675 posts

It's important to be aware that these plans are not written in stone and that there's a lot of growing unhappiness in a large number of regional governments. Beyond politics, this is important because the coming weeks can see an overturn of some of these policies announced recently when the extension (or not) of the State of Alarm is voted in Congress. No State of Alarm would mean an automatic devolution of competences to regional governments which, having the knowledge on health management, will implement their own plans according to the demographics and characteristics of each region. Sort of similar situation than in the US as I can read in the press.

To anyone visiting that could mean different rules depending to which region one's travelling to. Needless to say that this refers to the mid-term future as currently tourism travel to Spain is still restricted.

We'll see...

Posted by
2685 posts

For the time being, the Prime Minister has made it clear that it would be the central Health Ministry, and not Spain’s regional governments, who would be deciding on the speed of deescalation in each province, despite the latter calling for such powers.

Posted by
769 posts

I've made some edits. Keep it about the effects on travel please.

Posted by
2685 posts

UPDATE: Phase 0 deescalation measures to go into effect today (4/5/20)

Mandatory face masks
Starting on Monday, anyone traveling by bus, rail, sea or air must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth. The Spanish government is planning to hand out 14 million face masks at major transit hubs to ensure this rule is observed. Face masks will also be mandatory inside private vehicles when the passengers are not all members of the same household.

Road transportation
In private cars and company vehicles whose main activity is not road freight transportation, with seating for up to nine people including the driver, it will be possible to seat two people in each row, as long as they wear face masks and keep the greatest possible distance between them.

On public transportation where all passengers must be seated, no more than half of the seats may be occupied. On buses, the row directly behind the driver must remain empty. On city and intercity buses and on subway cars with standing space, the rule is that only half of seats may be used and there can only be a maximum of two standing riders per square meter.

Small businesses
Stores under 400 square meters may reopen but customers need to make appointments ahead of time, either by phone or email. Clients older than 65 must have their own time slot, which also has to coincide with the time assigned for daily walks for the 70-and-over population (10am to noon and 7pm to 8pm). There can only be one client for every employee, and stores selling clothing and shoes have to disinfect each item after every use.

The premises must also be disinfected twice a day, including at closing time. Employee uniforms must be washed daily at a temperature of over 60ºC. Customers may not use the bathroom unless it is an emergency. If it is not possible to keep a two-meter distance, face masks will be mandatory. All stores must have hand sanitizer available for their clients.

Until now, restaurants have been allowed home delivery. Starting on Monday, customers may also pick up their orders at the restaurant, as long as safety conditions are met. There must be a plexiglass barrier separating workers from clients, and ideally only one employee per client. When this is not possible, the latter will have to remain two meters apart. Hand sanitizer must be available at the entrance and exit, as well as trash cans without lids that have to be lifted by hand. Orders must be placed ahead of time by phone or online to avoid crowds.

Islands in Phase 1
Three of the Canary Islands (La Gomera, La Graciosa and El Hierro) as well as Formentera in the Balearic Islands entered Phase 1 on Monday, ahead of the rest of Spain. Because of their very low coronavirus transmission, these territories will allow residents to gather in groups of up to 10 people as long as safety distances are respected. Small businesses may also reopen without the need for appointments, but only at 30% of capacity. Open-air markets are allowed with 25% of the usual number of stands and 30% of the regular volume of visitors. Up to 15 people may attend funeral wakes.

Other parts of Spain will enter Phase 1 on May 11 as long as they meet certain criteria involving hospitals’ critical care capacity and coronavirus transmission rates.


Posted by
21319 posts

Thanks, Carlos. That's very interesting. I wonder how this is going to work: "...stores selling clothing and shoes have to disinfect each item after every use."

Posted by
2685 posts

Of course, glad I can help update others

As for the disinfecting the clothing items, I interpreted that as using a disinfecting spray on an article or even shoes after it is tried on by a customer, mitigating person to surface spread.

Posted by
2685 posts

UPDATE (9/5/2020) - Phase 1 deescalation measures to begin on Monday

The progressive phases of Spain’s coronavirus deescalation plan involve ever greater freedom of movement for citizens in the country. Until now, just four of Spain’s islands have moved from Phase 0 to Phase 1, but last night, the government announced that more than half of the country’s population will also move to Phase 1 starting on Monday the 11th of May. Here are responses to the most frequently asked questions regarding the next phase according to the details set out in the Official State Gazette (BOE),:

Can I travel to another province?

No, but travel within a province, island or healthcare area that has entered Phase 1 will be permitted.

Will timetables for taking exercise be maintained during Phase 1?

The timetables will still be in place, but each region can adjust them to suit their needs. Some regions have already requested modifications to the timetable for children, given the hot weather during the middle of the day.

What will happen with schools during Phase 1?

The BOE sets out that they will be able to open, avoiding crowds, so that students whose parents cannot take care of them due to work commitments can attend. Schools and universities will also reopen so that they can be disinfected, and adapted ahead of the eventual return of students.

Can I sit at a street café and have a drink?

Yes, provided there is room, given that only 50% of tables on terraces can be occupied. There will have to be a minimum distance of two meters between tables, and groups of customers cannot number more than 10. Such establishments will not yet be able to open their indoor dining areas, but will still be able to offer food to take away, as they could under Phase 0.

Restaurants and bars will have to prioritize single-use tablecloths, and under no circumstances can a fabric tablecloth be used for more than one customer. Such items will have to be washed at temperatures of between 60 and 90ºC.

Such businesses will have to provide hand gels and disinfectants at the entrance and physical menus will not be provided to customers. Items such as serviette dispensers, toothpicks and oil and vinegar bottles will also not be used, in favor of single servings of the latter.

Is tourism permitted?

According to the BOE, “active regional tourism” is permitted, such as nature excursions.

Will museums open?

Yes, visits to museums can begin once more, also limited to a third of capacity.

Will street markets reopen?

Yes, open-air street markets will return if permitted by local councils, albeit with restrictions relative to the distance between stands and controls on capacity by the authorities. The number of usual stands will be limited to 25%, while the public will be limited to a third of usual capacity.

What will happen with hotels?

Hotels can reopen with no limit on rooms, but there will be restrictions on the use of common areas such as restaurants.

Can I go to church or other places of worship?

Yes, places of worship will open in Phase 1, but the number of attendees will be reduced to a third of usual capacity. All attendees must wear masks and avoid the distribution or exchange of any object in order to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.


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2685 posts

UPDATE (17/5/2020) - a new round of deescalation measures to take effect this Monday

The majority of Spaniards – 33 million citizens – will from Monday move into Phase 1 of the coronavirus deescalation plan. While Madrid, Barcelona and much of Castilla y León will still remain in Phase 0 tomorrow due to lingering Covid-19 cases. The rest of Spain is either already in Phase 1, or will move to this stage on Monday, with some islands moving into Phase 2.

--Activities in Phase 1--

Mobility. Citizens can move around their province or island. All members of a family who live together can travel in a vehicle. People can travel to, and stay in, second residences if they are in the same province.

Business. Businesses with premises measuring under 400 square meters can open without customers having to make prior appointments. Establishments that are over 400 square meters can delimit an area within their premises to attend to customers. Shopping malls will remain closed. A timetable for the over-65s must be established.

Shows and cultural centers. Theaters, cinemas and museums will be able to open, limiting capacity to a third, with a maximum of 30 people at shows where the audience is seated. Libraries will open with the same conditions, but just for the lending and return of books.

Bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are permitted to open their street cafés, limiting capacity to 50% and prioritizing single-use objects.

Places of worship. Churches and other places of worship can reopen at a third of their capacity. Objects must not be shared, and if praying takes place on the floor, each person must bring their own mat.

Sporting activities. Individual training sessions are permitted for elite and federated sports persons. Sports centers can open with prior appointment, with limited capacity to ensure social distancing. The use of locker rooms and showers is not allowed.

Tourist accommodation. Hotels and other tourist accommodation can reopen all of their rooms, but common areas cannot be used.

Street markets. Open-air markets are allowed with 25% of usual stands and a third of normal capacity.

--Activities in Phase 2--

Social contact. The number of people who can meet for active and nature tourism activities is increased to 20, and 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.

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.

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.


Posted by
9 posts

Have booked trip to Spain beginning October 1, 2020. With all of the restrictions in place, seems like a bad idea going there at this time.
Concerned about visiting attractions, travel from place to place as well as restaurant capacity restrictions.
Thinking that I should reschedule......opinions?

Posted by
4191 posts

If you’re already booked, you might as well wait to see what happens before canceling.

Posted by
2685 posts

These deescalation measures will be in place until June 29, the Prime Minister has indicated that if all goes well, he will not seek to extend the State of Alarm and related measures past that.

There's a chance that international tourism may be back in October, albeit a slim chance. I'd wait until late August/early September to make a decision (if possible).