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).
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.
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.
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.