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Lifting of lockdown in Spain – full details of all phases

Full details of Spains plan to lift lockdown restrictions
Four Phase plan – introduction
Spanish Pri..

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Full details of Spains plan to lift lockdown restrictions

Four Phase plan – introduction

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced his governments Plan for the Transition towards a new normality in a televised address on Tuesday 28 April. It is planned to take place in four phases.

Sánchez said that his government had been consulting with a team of experts in health and epidemiology, as well as on social, economic and international issues, in order to phase the gradual reduction of lockdown restrictions so that Spain can return to a new normality by the end of June.

The Spanish prime minister said that the plan to relax the restrictions will be gradual, flexible and adaptive. Thhe de-escalation to a new normality will officially commence on Monday 4 May and last eight weeks, until the end of June.

In the best-case scenario, this de-escalation phase will take a minimum of six weeks and the maximum duration we want to see is eight weeks for the whole of Spain, said Sánchez. By the end of June, we as a country will have entered into the new normality if the epidemic remains under control.

The four phase plan does not contain exact dates for the reopening of businesses, bars, hotels and restaurants – and the de-escalation measures will depend on the on-going progress across the different regions of Spain to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Each region of Spain will need to meet specific epidemiological criteria and the lifting of restrictions will also depend on the ability to maintain sufficient capacity in intensive care unit (ICU) facilities, in case there is a sudden increase of infections again. Each region also needs to have the ability to carry out PCR tests on all suspected cases, and then isolating them and testing all of their contacts.

The governments plan is that each phase of the de-escalation will last for two weeks – yet starting with Phase Zero that will last for a minimum of one week.

Phase Zero will officially commence on Monday 4 May. Phase One will start from 10 May. Phase Two and Phase Three will commence approximately at two week intervals thereafter, depending on the progress for each region. The new normality is expected from 25 June.

Schools will not reopen until September – but there could be additional learning support provided beforehand.

The central government in Madrid, in coordination with the regions, will have the final decision on when each of Spains regions, provinces and islands can move towards each next phase. It means that the regions of Spain will move at different speeds.

Below is a summary of the main measures that will be relaxed across Spain during each phase, subject to how each region, province and island manages with its progress in containing any further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. We will update the information as soon as any new measures are officially announced.

The exact timing of the lifting of restrictions could differ for each region and province and people should check with local authorities for further information on what is permitted and when.

Phase Zero – officially from Monday 4 May

Phase Zero is the preparation phase for the de-escalation – and is currently underway. It included allowing children out for daily walks and exercise from Sunday 26 April. It also included adults being allowed out for daily walks and exercise from Saturday 2 May.

There are set time slots for when people can leave their homes in towns with over 5,000 residents. Full details of when adults are allowed to take walks and exercise are published in Spains Boletín Oficial de Estado (BOE).

Walks

Officially, walks for adults should be taken between 6am-10am or between 8pm-11pm. Two adults are allowed to take walks together, once a day during those times – but with no maximum time set for the period of walking. Adults should not walk further than a one kilometre radius from where they live.

Adults who do not live together have been told to maintain social distancing (a minimum of two metres) with others they see whilst out walking. People must not congregate in groups, and the walks and exercise must be within their own municipality of residence. Adults must not drive to a location to then commence a walk.

Those needing assistance or to be accompanied during walks, as well as those aged over 70, are allowed to take their walks between 10am and 12 noon or between 7pm-8pm.

In towns with under 5,000 residents, people are now allowed to take walks and exercise between 6am and 11pm. There are around 7,000 towns and villages in Spain with less than 5,000 inhabitants, representing approximately 12% of the population.

Physical exercise

All kinds of sports (jogging, cycling, skating) are also allowed during the same time periods as walking, as long as they are practised individually. This means that no team or group sports are allowed – yet two people can jog or cycle alongside one another, maintaining social distancing if they do not live together.

The distance restrictions of one kilometre from home do not apply to individual exercise activities, as long as people remain within their municipality. Sports facilities and gyms remain closed. Most beaches remain closed in Spain, and water sports are still not permitted.

Physical activity must be carried out in a continuous manner avoiding unnecessary stops on roads or in areas of public use, it is stated in the BOE. If a stop must be made, it must be strictly for the time necessary.

Those people practising individual sports activities must also not drive to any location to start the activity.

Walks with children

Since last Sunday, children up to the age of 14 in Spain have been allowed to go out for daily walks and exercise, after 43 days of confinement. The rules for walks with children remain the same, except for the time slot permitted.

Up to three children are allowed to be out for up to one hour a day, officially accompanied by just one adult, and to remain within one kilometre from home. They are allowed to take bicycles, scooters and skateboards. Their walks were originally permitted between 9am-9pm but must now be between 12 noon and 7pm.

Officially, walks involving the whole family or with two parents or guardians at the same time are still not allowed. However, Fernando Simón, the director of the Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies, has said that it is compatible that the same person who exercises or goes for a walk in the morning time slot, could also stroll with their children for an hour during the 12pm to 7pm slot.

Appeal for common sense

The Spanish Health Ministry has also appealed for the common sense of citizens. Health Minister Salvador Illa said that the continuing fall in Coronavirus infections will depend on how citizens behave from now on, and that people must take individual responsibility for observing the rules.

It is still not allowed to drive off for excursions, visit friends or relatives in other regions, or spend time at a second residence in Spain. This is expected to be gradually relaxed until during Phase One (see below).

On Saturday 2 May, Sánchez announced further measures for Phase Zero that come into effect from Monday 4 May across all regions. He also said that on Wednesday 6 May his government will be requesting a further official extension of 15 days to the lockdown in the Spanish Congress, until 25 May. The current lockdown is in place until 9 May (also see below for lockdown in Spain to date).

From Monday 4 May, it will be compulsory to wear face masks on all public transport in Spain.

Also from Monday 4 May, restaurants and cafés in Spain will be allowed to open only for people to collect food, or for a takeaway delivery service.

Businesses such as bookshops, hardware shops, hairdressers and workshops will also be able to open, but for visits by appointments only. Only one customer can be served by one employee at a time.

Preference hours at these establishments will be given to people aged over 65 in Spain. They will have preference (but not exclusivity) between 10am and 12 noon, and from 7pm to 8pm. There will be restrictions on how many people can access the establishments at any one time.

Sánchez has also announced that some further restrictions on professional sport will be lifted from Monday 4 May. Individual training sessions will be allowed without time limits. Players in professional leagues will be able to train individually at their clubs.

The island of Formentera in the Balearic Islands, as well as La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa in the Canary Islands, have already gone straight to Phase One (see below).

Phase One – from 10 May

Phase One will allow the initial reopening of small businesses, with security measures and social distancing in place.

Restaurant terraces could be allowed to open at up to 50% capacity.

Hotels could also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity, except for communal areas that will remain closed.

There will be preferential time slots given to elderly people across Spain for the use of such establishments.

Some libraries will be allowed to reopen, with areas of reduced space and capacity. Selected museums could also reopen – again with reduced capacity and visits organised by appointment only.

During Phase One, it is planned that places of worship will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity.

Cultural acts could be permitted in certain regions, in closed venues with a maximum capacity of 30 people during this Phase One. Cultural acts could also be permitted in outside venues for up to 200 people – yet only if seated and with social distancing measures in place.

Rural tourism (possibly forest walks and trekking) could also be permitted during this period, depending on the region, yet only with organised and limited groups.

The reactivation of film and TV productions could also take place during this phase, subject to security and health measures being applied.

From 10 May during Phase One – and always depending on the progress against the pandemic in each area across Spain – journeys to second residences could also be allowed providing that they are in the same province. If they are in a different province, trips will not be allowed until towards the end of June.

During Phase One, citizens will also be allowed to meet with friends or family in their homes in the same province, but precise details of how many people can meet and under what conditions will be announced at a later date.

Phase Two – 2 weeks later

Pedro Sánchez referred to Phase Two as the intermediate phase. It would take place approximately from 26 May.

This phase would allow restaurants (those without terraces), theatres and cinemas to reopen but with limitations. Restaurants (inside), for example, will be allowed to reopen but only with a third of capacity, and with table service only. Cinemas and theatres will also be allowed to reopen only with a third of capacity.

Outdoor cultural events during Phase Two could be held with a maximum of 400 people – yet only if seated and with social distancing measures in place. Cultural gatherings indoors could be held with a maximum of 50 people.

Historic visitor attractions (not theme parks) and monuments could be allowed to reopen during this phase, yet only with a third capacity – and it is understood only with pre-arranged group or guided visits.

Rural tourism could also be further relaxed during this phase.

Whilst schools across Spain will officially not open again until September, Sánchez also said that from Phase Two of the easing of lockdown measures, some institutions might be able to open to host some face-to-face activities with students. Again, this will depend upon the progress of each region.

The activities could include reinforcement lessons, students sitting university entrance exams, as well as ensuring that children under the age of six can go to school if parents have to go to work and have no one to leave their children with.

Where students do attend schools during Phase Two, the groups will be limited to a maximum of 15 students.

Phase Three – 2 weeks later

Phase Three is expected to commence from around 10 June.

This phase will see further measures relaxed before the new normality, as well as allowing more flexible and free movement across Spain and between regions. The use of face masks will remain recommended for all citizens.

All previous establishments above that had been allowed to open with a third capacity during the previous phases could now be able to increase to 50% capacity, depending on the overall progress in combating the pandemic.

Retail shops could also be allowed to start reopening at 50% capacity.

Outdoor cultural events could now be held with a maximum of 800 people – yet still only seated and with social distancing measures in place. Concert halls and other venues could be allowed to reopen, at a third capacity.

Rural tourism and coastal walks could be further relaxed.

Beaches could finally reopen during this phase (as well as hotel communal areas, such as swimming pools) depending on the region and province. It is expected that security, health and on-going social distancing measures will still be put in place.

Festival Cruilla
Summer music festivals are unlikely in Spain this year, at least not without many health and security measures. An image from Festival Cruïlla in 2018 (courtesy Festival Cruïlla / Twitter @cruillabcn)

Lockdown in Spain to date

Pedro Sánchez has said that on Wednesday 6 May his government will be requesting in parliament a further official extension of 15 days to the current lockdown until 25 May.

On Wednesday 22 April, the Spanish Congress voted to extend the official state of alarm lockdown in Spain until Saturday 9 May. The extension also came with the relaxation of some restrictions, specifically allowing children aged up to 14 the opportunity to take daily walks for an hour from Sunday 26 April.

Spain originally commenced its lockdown for two weeks from 14 March, with measures that confined everyone to their homes apart from leaving to purchase food or medication, or to go to their place of work only if they could not perform their duties from home. After one week, these initial measures were then extended until 12 April, then for a second time until 26 April – and then until 9 May.

During the overall lockdown period, from Monday 30 March until after Easter, further measures were introduced ordering all non-essential workers in Spain to also remain at home. Following the Easter break, industrial and construction workers, as well as non-essential employees in sectors where working from home wasnt possible, started a gradual return to work.

With the relaxing of restrictions for children from Sunday 26 April – after 43 days confined at home – they were allowed out for an hour accompanied by a parent, guardian or elder sibling, to walk, run, cycle, scooter or play. From Saturday 2 May – after 48 days in confinement – adults across Spain were allowed out to walk and exercise during set time slots.

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Storm Filomena: Spain sees ‘exceptional’ snowfall

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Storm Filomena has blanketed parts of Spain in heavy snow, with half of the country on red alert for more on Saturday.

Road, rail and air travel has been disrupted and interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the country was facing “the most intense storm in the last 50 years”.

Madrid, one of the worst affected areas, is set to see up to 20cm (eight inches) of snow in the next 24 hours.

Further south the storm caused rivers to burst their banks.

Four deaths have been reported so far as a result of Filomena. Officials said two people had been found frozen to death – one in the town of Zarzalejo, north-west of Madrid, and the other in the eastern city of Calatayud. Two people travelling in a car were swept away by floods near the southern city of Malaga.

As snow fell on Madrid on Friday evening, a number of vehicles became stranded on a motorway near the capital.

The city’s Barajas airport has closed, along with a number of roads, and all trains to and from Madrid have been cancelled.

Firefighters were called in to assist drivers who had become stuck. In some areas the military were called in to help clear roads.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged people to stay at home and to follow the instructions of emergency services. King Felipe and Queen Letizia took to Twitter to urge “extreme caution against the risks of accumulation of ice and snow”.

The country’s AEMET weather agency said the snowfall was “exceptional and most likely historic”.

A number of people were seen making the most of the snowy scenery, walking through Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.

Large parks in Madrid have since been closed as a precaution, AFP news agency reports.

One man was pictured skiing along the Gran Via, the capital’s famous shopping street.

In Cañada Real, the largest shanty town in western Europe, residents were seen creating a bonfire to keep warm.

The cold weather is set to continue beyond the weekend with temperatures in Madrid predicted to hit -12C on Thursday.

 

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55586751

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Spain, UK reach ‘preliminary agreement’ that will see an end to the border with Gibraltar

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The border that separates Gibraltar from La Línea de la Concepción, which is known in Spanish as La Verja and was closed for 13 years (1969 to 1982), will cease to exist in six months’ time. Spain and the United Kingdom have reached a “preliminary agreement” to avoid the British Overseas Territory from becoming a hard border of the European Union. The two delegations, headed by the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya and her British counterpart Dominic Raab, were negotiating the deal late into Wednesday night, with just hours to go before Brexit becomes a reality, and the United Kingdom definitively leaves the European Union at midnight tonight.

According to the Spanish minister, who gave a press conference today from La Moncloa, the prime ministerial palace, Gibraltar will be joining the Schengen area, a European free-travel zone that is made up of 26 countries (22 from the EU, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein), meaning that the border to enter the British Overseas Territory will no longer be at La Verja, but rather at Gibraltar’s port and airport.

During the so-called “implementation period,” which will last for four years, these border controls will be headed up by the European border agency Frontex, but Spain will be responsible for the Schengen rules being observed in Gibraltar. That means that the European agents will have to render account to the Spanish authorities regarding who is permitted to enter the area and the policy of conceding visas. Anyone traveling to Gibraltar from Spanish territory will not require a passport, but British arrivals will, given that the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area.

The deal, which sources from La Moncloa described as “historic,” has been subject to negotiations between Spanish and British delegations since June, with Gibraltarian representatives forming part of the latter. But a final sprint was needed to get it across the line ahead of the Brexit deadline. The text has already been sent to Brussels and must now be enshrined in a treaty between the UK and the EU, given that the European Commission is the competent authority on the issue. The deal would not have been possible had Spain not managed to secure a veto over the future relationship with Gibraltar during the Brexit negotiations.

The Spanish foreign minister highlighted the fact that the measures agreed with the United Kingdom will be adopted “without prejudice to the inalienable claims of both sides in terms of the sovereignty [of Gibraltar], which have been safeguarded.”

While the necessary steps are taken to finalize the treaty, something that is forecast to take six months, “arrangements that are allowed by Schengen to ease the controls at La Verja” will be applied, in order to ensure that mobility (which is already greatly limited due to the pandemic) be “as fluid as possible,” in the words of the minister.

González Laya did not offer details about how Spain would exercise its responsibility over the Gibraltar border, nor whether, after four years, Spanish police would be stationed in the port and the airport of The Rock, as the territory is commonly known. She only went so far as to say that at the end of this period, a round of consultation is planned, and that the role of Frontex is to “assist the Spanish authorities” and to serve as a “confidence builder” – that’s to say, dispel any misgivings on the part of the Gibraltarians.

As well as forming part of Schengen, Gibraltar will be able to benefit from other EU policies, such as a customs regime for the trade of goods, always with the intermediation and support of Spain, and guaranteeing loyal competition in terms of taxation, environmental issues and work relations. This will create a paradox whereby Gibraltar – 96% of whose inhabitants voted against Brexit in the 2016 referendum – could be more integrated in the EU now that it is out of it than when the UK was part of the bloc, given that it was not part of Schengen, nor the customs union or common market.

In theory, the nearly 10,000 Spaniards who work in Gibraltar (two-thirds of the 15,000 cross-border workers, had their access via La Verja guaranteed, even if there had been no deal, provided they figured on a registry that would have let them come and go just by showing an ID card such as the Spanish DNI.

The problem is that a hard border would have seen the end of many of these jobs in Gibraltar, as well as depriving the nearby Spanish population of customers with high spending power. As such, on Monday, the mayors of eight Spanish municipalities in the neighboring area called on the governments in Madrid and London to reach an “urgent and positive” deal that would put the “interests of the citizens above any other aspect.”

For her part, González Laya said on Monday that Spain was willing to “raise La Verja” to facilitate the free circulation of people with Gibraltar, but warned that if there was no deal, it would be “the only place where there was a hard Brexit.”

The Rock was expressly excluded from the Brexit deal reached between the UK and the EU on December 24, meaning that its future was entirely dependent on the results of the negotiations between Madrid and London.

Via a statement, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab celebrated the deal, saying that “working side by side with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, and following intensive discussions with the Spanish government, we reached agreement on a political framework to form the basis of a separate treaty between the UK and the EU regarding Gibraltar.” In the meantime, he continued, “all sides are committed to mitigating the effects of the end of the Transition Period on Gibraltar, and in particular ensure border fluidity, which is clearly in the best interests of the people living on both sides.” Raab reiterated his government’s firm commitment to “Gibraltar and its sovereignty,” and thanked his Spanish counterpart for her “positive and constructive approach.” He concluded saying: “We have a warm and strong relationship with Spain, and we look forward to building on it in 2021.”

Writing via Twitter, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that the deal was the start of “a new era,” saying that the preliminary agreement will “allow for barriers to be eliminated and to move toward an area of shared prosperity.” He also thanked the negotiators from the Foreign Ministry.

British Prime Minister Borish Johnson also published a tweet on Thursday afternoon, welcoming the deal.

Read from source: https://english.elpais.com/brexit/2020-12-31/spain-uk-reach-draft-agreement-that-will-see-an-end-to-the-border-with-gibraltar.html

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The Spanish prime minister’s migration journey

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Separating the destinies of Abdoul, a 16-year-old from Sierra Leone, and Moroccan Yassin Esadik, 23, is an abyss of two-and-a-half years. The former disembarked from the Aquarius rescue ship in Valencia in June, 2018. The red-carpet treatment rolled out in the port meant there were 600 journalists on site, humanitarian aid and a coordinated administration focused on accelerating the procedures to process the migrants’ arrival.

Two-and-a-half years later, at the end of October, Esadik arrived in the overcrowded Arguineguín dock in Gran Canaria, where migrant arrivals had been accumulating for 20 days. Sandwiches were handed out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there was a lack of water and hygiene, journalists were kept behind a barrier and an overwhelmed system meant that he was unlikely to be able to leave the island until he was deported. It’s not just time that separates the fate of these two young men; nor is it exactly an ideological shift. It is realpolitik.

In the case of Abdoul, a then-unknown humanitarian rescue ship gave Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez the opportunity to declare his intentions to the European Union as soon as he took power in June 2018. The Aquarius was the first ship to become embroiled in a humanitarian crisis due to the closed port strategy of the Italian interior minister at the time, Matteo Salvini. While Europe looked the other way, the vessel was left in limbo for eight days. Implicit in Sánchez’s gesture was the message that Spain could lead the approach of Europe’s southern states to migration, could manage the flows and control borders while respecting human rights. But reality soon chewed up that message and spat it out.

Another incident involving a ship that has long been forgotten showed how quickly Spain ditched this role. In late November 2018, the Alicante fishing boat Nuestra Madre Loreto was left in limbo for 10 days after rescuing 12 migrants off the coast of Libya. Once again, neither Italy nor Malta allowed it to dock, and Sanchez’s government, in contrast with its previous message, tried to resolve the crisis by forcing the ship to leave the migrants in what it considered the closest and safest port – Libya, a chaotic country, according to migration experts, where migrants are extorted and abused. The captain of Nuestra Madre Loreto, Pascual Durá, refused and set sail for the Spanish coast. The crisis was only resolved at the last minute when Malta allowed the boat to dock on the condition that the migrants were subsequently taken to Spain.

Since that incident, there has been a U-turn in Spain’s migration politics. The vast majority of the Aquarius migrants plus those rescued by the Catalan NGO ship Proactiva Open Arms arriving in Spain in 2018 have had their request for legal residency rejected; Spanish rescue boats have been forbidden to trawl the central Mediterranean and the Maritime Rescue service has also had its hands tied. For the time being, the coalition government has agreed not to stop immediate deportation, and the enclosure in Ceuta and Melilla is being maintained and is now being tried in the Canary Islands.

“Spanish migration strategy is more stable than it seems,” says Gemma Pinyol, director of the Instrategies think tank. “There are some changes in the narrative depending on who is in power, but the border control policies, which are the ones that continue to be imposed, haven’t changed that much. We need to take a good look and promote serious debate on migration. We can discuss which model is better or worse, but we must seek a comprehensive mobility policy.”

While Spain has been spared Europe’s migratory crises until recently, over the past two and a half years it has been left to face unprecedented situations practically alone. In 2018, irregular entries rocketed by more than 64,000 and, a year later, the number of asylum applications rose to 118,000, collapsing an already precarious system. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, the Canary Islands is bearing the brunt of the situation, leading to migrant macro-camps such as were set up in the Greek islands.

Thanks to the European Union and its interior ministers, the chance of Spain leading a migration approach of its own has dwindled. “From the Pyrenees down, Europe only cares about two words: secondary migrations,” says a member of the current administration, referring to the obsession with stopping the transit of migrants to the rest of Europe through Mediterranean countries.

In fact it is the demands of European countries to the north and east of the continent that have done much to curb Spain’s early initiative. “There has been a total rejection of what was originally proposed and a lack of leadership,” says a spokesman involved in national immigration policy. “There was a positive, serious, orderly approach; obviously not perfect, but, on paper at least, the line on immigration policy was clear. In practice, it turns out to be something else; you do what [Spain’s interior minister] Fernando Grande-Marlaska says.”

The new migration agreement currently being negotiated in Brussels rules out a solidarity-based distribution of immigrants and instead focuses on border controls, putting aside the debate on legal migration models and an adequate response to the demographic needs of an aging continent. “In Europe, the view of immigration is strictly about limiting and repressing it,” says political scientist Sami Naïr. “There is no prospective concept of what could be a great Mediterranean policy between the two shores, nor a true policy of cooperation. I have been advocating for years that limitation is necessary, but it has to run alongside proposals that offer stability to the populations of the countries of origin.”

Meanwhile, Spain still harbors a certain transformative impulse inspired by Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration José Luis Escrivá, who advocates attracting foreigners to the labor market legally as a way to save the welfare state and mitigate Spain’s the demographic decline. Escrivá is committed to making procedures more flexible, attracting talent and facilitating the inclusion of foreign minors. But the minister is more or less on his own and the impact of these initiatives is slight within the context of the great immigration conundrum. Now, the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has triggered unemployment, complicates policy further. Once again, it is realpolitik.

 

Read from source: https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2020-12-30/the-spanish-prime-ministers-migration-journey.html

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