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EXPLAINED: The Covid restrictions in your region of Spain this Christmas

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thelocal– As Spain’s national government and the regions were unable to reach a common agreement on all Covid measures over Christmas and early January, it’s once again the regions that decide which restrictions will apply in their territory. Here are the Covid rules in your part of Spain. 

Another year, another example of ‘17 Christmasses’. Pedro Sánchez’s meeting with the country’s 17 regional presidents did not result in a common plan of action across Spain to fight the highest daily infections since the pandemic began and the spread of the Omicron variant.

There was some consensus over some of the rules and measures to be implemented over Christmas and in the new year, notably the return of the face mask requirement outdoors.

But the old restrictions which have affected daily life for the past two years – closures, curfews, capacity limits, closing times, the Covid health pass requirement and more – are once again in the hands of each regional government to decide on and implement.

So this Christmas, just as was the case last year, which Covid restrictions apply to you will depend on where exactly you are in Spain.

Andalusia

Bars and restaurants:  There are currently no limits on capacity or opening hours.

Nightlife: In the municipalities at “level 0” there are no restrictions on capacity or closing times.

Covid health pass:  Until January 15th, the Digital Covid Certificate for hotels, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, cafés, hospitals and care homes in Andalusia is required.

Aragón

Bars and restaurants : 100 percent capacity at bars and restaurants and normal closing hours.

Nightlife:  100 percent capacity and normal closing hours.

Covid health pass: The document reflecting vaccination or testing is mandatory in Aragón’s nightlife venues which can house 50+ people (in smaller establishments only from 9pm), in gaming and betting rooms, for family celebrations of more than 10 people held at hotels or restaurants including weddings, birthdays, baptisms, etc, in hospitals and care homes and for events of more than 500 people in a closed place or 1,000 in an open space. The Aragonese government wants to expand the Covid health pass’s requirement to gyms, restaurants and cinemas.

Asturias

Bars and restaurants:  There won’t be early closing hours but it will be necessary for hospitality venues to install CO2 meters, ensure good ventilation and apply a distance of one and a half metres between different groups.

Nightlife:  The same rules that apply to bars and restaurants in Asturias are also in place for nightclubs.

Covid health pass: Asturias is waiting to receive judicial approval to implement the Covid certificate in the hotel industry and for activities that take place indoors. If approved, the measure would come into force on or before Monday December 27th.

Balearic Islands

Bars and restaurants:  There are no time or capacity restrictions for bars, cafés and restaurants on the Mediterranean islands this Christmas.

Nightlife: Nightclubs will have to stick to an indoor capacity limit of 60 percent over the Christmas period.

Covid health pass: Until at least January 24th, a Covid certificate will be required in all nightlife venues, restaurants, bars, cafes and other spaces with a capacity of more than 50 people. In Menorca it is also requested in cinemas and other cultural spaces where drinks and food can be consumed, at gyms, dance academies and tourist establishments with rooms for shared use. In Mallorca, the certificate is mandatory at hostels. The Balearic high court has also endorsed the health document requirement for health workers, or three weekly tests. The Balearic government now wants judicial approval to extend the COVID health pass to all restaurants regardless of their capacity.

Basque Country

Bars and restaurants:  There are no capacity limits or opening hours for hospitality establishments in the Basque Country, except for in municipalities with very high infection rates.

Nightlife: There are no capacity limits or opening hours for nightlife establishments in the Basque Country, except for in municipalities with very high infection rates.

Covid health pass: The health document is requested at the Basque Country’s nightlife establishments, restaurants with more than 50 diners, hotels, concert halls, sports centres, gyms, pavilions with more than 100 people, hospitals, care homes and prisons.

Cantabria

Bars and restaurants: There aren’t any capacity or opening hour limits for hospitality venues in Cantabrian municipalities in the “controlled risk” level; but for those in level 1 or 2 a Covid health pass is needed and tables are limited to 10 people.

Nightlife: No restrictions in “controlled risk” municipalities. For those in level 1 and 2, nightclubs can only open if they have CO2 meters and request the Covid health pass to enter. The indoor capacity for nightclubs on level 1 is 75 percent and for those on level 2 it’s 50 percent. A maximum of 10 per table is set for level 1 and 2 nightclubs. Cantabria’s high court rejected the measure to limit nightclubs’ closing time to 3am over Christmas.

Covid health pass: Cantabria’s high court has endorsed the Covid certificate’s use to gain access to enclosed venues where food and drink is consumed, including bars, restaurants and nightlife venues, large events or cultural spaces -such as cinemas, theatres etc.

Canary Islands

Bars and restaurants: Authorities in the Atlantic archipelago have a complex system in place where the opening hours and the capacity of hospitality establishments – both indoors and outdoors – is determined by the alert level of each island and whether the owners request the Covid health pass from customers. If they do require it, they can operate with the restrictions a level under which their island finds itself, which means more capacity and longer opening hours.

Nightlife: The same complex rules apply to nightclubs in the Canaries over Christmas. As things stand on December 23rd, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are at level 3, La Palma at level 2 and Lanzarote, La Gomera and El Hierro, at level 1.

Covid health pass: The Covid certificate is voluntary for all types of hospitality establishments as detailed above, but the health document is again being required for national tourists arriving in the islands, the only region currently doing so.

Castilla- La Mancha

Bars and restaurants:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Nightlife:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Covid health pass: Castilla-La Mancha’s government has not implemented the requirement of the Covid certificate for daily affairs or any establishment in the region.

Castilla Y León

Bars and restaurants:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Nightlife:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Covid health pass: Castilla y Leon’s government is also one of the few regional governments in Spain which has decided it isn’t necessary to require the Covid certificate for daily affairs or any establishments in the region.

Catalonia 

Authorities in the northeastern region on Thursday got approval to reimpose a 1am to 6am night curfew in municipalities with an infection rate of 250 cases per 100,000 people, which currently encompasses most of Catalonia. This will affect the closing times of all types of hospitality establishments for the next two weeks at least.

Bars and restaurants: There aren’t any capacity limits apart from more spacing at the bar. The curfew also means they’ll have to close before 1am in municipalities with high infection rates.

Nightlife: The capacity for nightclubs over Christmas is set at 80 percent. Dancing with a mask will be allowed without distance between partygoers, but again the curfew will mean the party ends before 1am over Christmas.

Covid health pass: it’s mandatory for nightclubs, cafés, bars, restaurants, gyms and sports centres, care homes, indoor standing music festivals and celebrations in hotels and restaurants where dancing is done indoors.

Extremadura

Bars and restaurants: There is no official capacity limit but Extremaduran authorities do recommend that 80 percent capacity indoors is  observed and a maximum of ten people per table and other gatherings.

Nightlife: The same rules and recommendations that apply to bars and restaurants apply to nightclubs in the western region.

Covid health pass: The health document isn’t required for daily affairs in Extremadura.

Galicia

Bars and restaurants:  Hospitality venues can have 100 percent capacity indoors and on terraces, with a maximum of eight people per table indoors and 15 outdoors. Closing times are set at 1am over Christmas and 1.30 am on Friday and Saturday night. Cocktail parties and similar celebrations where people are standing and consuming aren’t allowed.

Nightlife: The same capacity restrictions in place for the hospitality venues apply to nightclubs. Clubs closing hours are fixed at 5 am every day and 4am for bars except on Fridays and Saturdays where they can stay open until 4.30am.

Covid health pass: It’s  required to access restaurants, nightlife venues, bars, cafés after 9pm, hostels, hospitals, gyms, closed sports facilities, indoor swimming pools, care homes and mass events, including those with a capacity of more than 200 people indoors and that sell food or beverages.

Madrid

Bars and restaurants: No time or capacity limits, being served at the bar is allowed but only sitting. Smoking isn’t allowed on terraces unless you can keep a distance from others.

Nightlife:  Madrid’s nightclubs will have normal opening hours and capacity over Christmas. Dancing is allowed indoors – without consuming alcohol – and outdoors with a mask. Concerts and shows where the crowd is standing are allowed but eating and drinking may only be allowed in authorised areas.

Covid health pass: The health document isn’t required in the Spanish capital.

Murcia

The Murcian government has agreed that over Christmas non-essential establishments will have to close from 1am to 6am until at least January 14th. This will have a big impact on New Year celebrations in the southern region.

Bars and restaurants: Apart from their new Christmas closing times, Murcia’s bar and restaurant terraces can have 100 percent capacity on all risk levels but for indoor spaces, when Covid health passes aren’t requested by the establishments, the capacity limit is set at 75 percent for municipalities on levels 1 and 2; 50 percent for those on level 3 and 30 percent for towns and cities on level 4.

Nightlife:  The indoor capacity limit is set at 75 percent indoors if a Covid health pass is required. If not, the local alert level will affect the nightclub’s capacity: 50 percent for municipalities at level 3 and 30 percent for those at level 4.

Covid health pass: it’s now optional for bars and restaurants as well as nightclubs to ask for the health document, although it will limit capacity in many cases.

Navarre

Bars and restaurants: There are no restrictions on capacity and opening hours. Smoking on terraces is not allowed unless a distance of 2 metres can be kept.

Nightlife:  No capacity or opening hour limits

Covid health pass: Until at least January 6th, Covid certificates are mandatory to access restaurants with more than 60 diners and nightlife establishments.

La Rioja 

Bars and restaurants:  No capacity or opening hour limits

Nightlife:  No capacity or opening hour limits

Covid health pass: Until January 22nd, you need a Covid certificate to access nightlife establishments; restaurants with more than 50 diners; hospitals, care homes and outdoor events with more than 1,000 people when food or drink is consumed.

Valencia region 

Bars and restaurants: There are no capacity or time limitations for hospitality venues in the region, apart from a maximum of ten people per table.

Nightlife:  The same applies to nightclubs in the eastern region, which will have a limit of ten people per table.

Covid health pass: It’s mandatory for now to access leisure and hospitality venues including bars and restaurants, nightclubs, music festivals and events with more than 500 attendees, for hospital and care home visits, cinemas, gyms, etc

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Man jailed for WhatsApp threats to kill Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

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A man has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for threatening to kill Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Manuel Murillo Sanchez was found guilty by Spain’s National Court of preparing to commit assassination and illegal weapons offences.

The 65-year-old former security guard from Tarrasa was arrested in 2018 after making deaths threats in a WhatsApp group.

The court heard how Murillo Sanchez had offered to act as a “sniper” and “hunt down” the Spanish PM “like a deer”.

The suspect’s comments came after the Spanish government had ordered for the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco to be exhumed.

The court rejected his defence that he had been intoxicated when sending the WhatsApp messages and sentenced him to two years and six months in prison for attempted murder.

He was also given a five-year sentence for possessing illegal weapons and banned from owning any firearms for eight years. The verdict is subject to appeal.

The remains of Franco were removed to a cemetery on the outskirts of Madrid in October 2019, prompting anger from far-right groups in Spain.

In a WhatsApp group, Murillo Sanchez had allegedly told fellow users that he was a “sniper with a precise shot” who could target Prime Minister Sanchez.

“We cannot allow them to humiliate Generalissimo Francisco Franco … If necessary, I will go armed and sit on Franco’s tomb, and if they come close, I will shoot”, he reportedly wrote.

The court said the man’s “determination” and the number of weapons seized from him shows “a high level of danger” even if he had not made any specific plans to kill the Spanish PM.

The suspect had repeatedly expressed “his intention to finish off the president of the government” to “bring about a change in the Spanish political situation”, a court statement read.

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Barcelona seeks to ban smoking on all beaches, after positive pilot scheme

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Barcelona City Council is seeking to ban smoking on all of the city’s 10 beaches from this July, following a successful pilot scheme that was carried out on four beaches last summer.

‘The measure aims to facilitate healthier places to live together, with less waste and respect for the environment,’ the council said.

It said that there was a ‘good reception’ to the pilot test of smokeless beaches carried out last year, and which was assessed positively by the public with a score of 8.2 points out of 10. It also resulted in ‘a significant reduction of highly polluting cigarette butts abandoned in the sand’, the council added, resulting in the authorities pushing for an extension of the ban on all 10 beaches of Barcelona’s coastline for this summer.

The council said on Friday that it would be launching a campaign this month to inform residents of the new measure, as well as spreading awareness of its benefits. When the restriction comes into effect in July, it will be monitored by the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB).

Last summer smoking was prohibited on four of the ten beaches in Barcelona (Sant Miquel, Somorrostro, Nova Icària and Nova Mar Bella) from 29 May until 12 September. The regulations last year did not allow Barcelona City Council to actually apply sanctions, but bathers could be told to stop smoking by police officers, and if they then refused to do so, they could have faced fines for disobedience.

According to reports, only 2.6% of beach-goers defied the ban at the four beaches last summer, whilst 19% of those at the city’s other six beaches smoked.

The campaign last year highlighted that 13.8% of deaths annually in Barcelona are attributed to tobacco consumption – some 2,200 people. The campaign also focused on the danger of second-hand smoke, considered particularly harmful for children. A study last year revealed that more than 135,000 cases of respiratory diseases and over 3,000 hospitalisations in children aged under 12 in Spain are attributed to passive smoking.

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking, approximately five billion cigarette butts end up in the sea each year. Discarded cigarettes contain substances such as cadmium, iron, arsenic, nickel, copper, zinc, or manganese – some of which are toxic to both human and marine life.

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Body of US software mogul John McAfee still in Barcelona morgue, seven months after his death

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The body of American anti-virus developer John McAfee remains in a morgue in the Barcelona City of Justice complex, in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, seven months after his death. It is currently located in the Legal Medicine Institute (Imelec), a grey building with honeycomb windows, while a judge has been preparing a report on his death.

That report, released this week, has determined that the software mogul died by suicide in his prison cell in Barcelona province on June 23, 2021 as he awaited extradition to the United States on charges of failing to file US tax returns from 2014 to 2018.

The 75-year-old’s family had raised questions about the circumstances of his death, even though an autopsy concluded that McAfee hung himself inside his cell at Brians 2 penitentiary in Sant Esteve Sesrovires. Prison workers found a suicide note in the pocket of his pants.

The months-long investigation is not quite over yet, as lawyers for McAfee’s family have appealed the Spanish judge’s decision to provisionally close the case. The provincial court of Barcelona must now decide whether to confirm the judge’s decision or order him to keep the investigation open. The family has argued that the autopsy was incomplete and lacked the “basic elements” to draw definitive conclusions about the cause of death, according to defense sources.

The building in Martorell (Barcelona) that houses the court that’s been investigating the case has so many structural deficiencies that in 2019, Spain’s legal watchdog, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), ordered two courtrooms closed because of safety hazards. The legal staff in this building is also dealing with a severe backlog of work, which partially explains the delay in concluding the McAfee investigation.

The cybersecurity entrepreneur’s family was very critical of the process from the beginning. His ex-wife, Janice McAfee, traveled to Barcelona and met with three prison officials at Brians 2, but she remained unconvinced by their explanations and questioned the suicide hypothesis. “The last thing he told me was ‘I love you and I’ll call you this evening. Those are not the words of someone who is suicidal’,” she said at the time.

Clear case

But medical experts who examined the body always believed it was a clear case of suicide. McAfee was found hanging from his cell, where he had asked to spend time. He was in pre-trial detention after being charged with tax evasion by the United States. He had been in prison for more than eight months while Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, considered the extradition request for failing to file tax returns between 2014 and 2018. On Wednesday morning, McAfee’s lawyers told him that the court had decided to approve his extradition to the US and in the afternoon he killed himself, according to the investigation.

McAfee was the creator of one of the most popular antivirus software programs on the market and was considered a genius in the tech world. His life, however, was plagued by controversy. In 2012, McAfee was named a person of interest by authorities in Belize investigating the murder of his neighbor, but he never faced trial because he fled before he could be questioned. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, McAfee was in Spain’s Catalonia region, where he spent most of the lockdown. Authorities believe he lived in a semi-abandoned hotel in Cambrils called Daurada Park Hotel. Two years earlier, during an administrative inspection, the Catalan police had discovered a cryptocurrency operation in the basement of the hotel.

In July 2021 Spain’s National Police were notified by Interpol about the charges for tax evasion and arrested him on October 3 at Barcelona’s El Prat airport as he was about to fly to Istanbul. The court’s extradition decision, however, could have been appealed, and McAfee’s defense was already working on this process.

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