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Christmas in Spain: All the latest coronavirus restrictions, region by region

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In a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, several regions in Spain have announced tougher restrictions over the Christmas holiday period, when more travel and socializing are expected. Under the Spanish Health Ministry’s Christmas plan, which was approved on December 2 by a committee of regional health chiefs, gatherings were limited to 10 people and a 1.30am curfew was set for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The plan also allowed citizens to travel to a different region, but only to see family or allegados, a term meaning people with whom there is a close bond, and which has sparked widespread confusion.

But the epidemiological situation in Spain has worsened since December 2, with the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants rising to 214 on Friday. In several regions, the incidence rate now exceeds 250, which is considered by the Health Ministry to indicate a situation of “extreme risk.” This has prompted many regional authorities to introduce tougher rules for the Christmas holiday period.

Here is an overview of what has been announced so far in each region.

Andalusia

The regional government will allow travel between the provinces in the region until January 10. Between December 23 and January 6, travel in and out of the region will also be allowed for visits to see family or allegados. On December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6, the number of people allowed at a gathering will be increased from six to 10. But the regional government recommends that no more than two different household groups attend a gathering.

Between December 18 and January 10, shops and other commercial establishments may remain open until 9pm, while bars and restaurants will be able to open from the morning until 6pm and from 8pm to 11.30pm (1am on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve). A curfew will remain in place from 11pm to 6am, with the exception of December 24 and 31, when it will be pushed back to 1.30am.

From December 22 to January 7, residents of senior homes may leave these facilities as long as they have had no symptoms over the previous two weeks and have undergone a diagnostic test up to 72 hours earlier.

Aragón

On December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed in private gatherings. Travel in and out of the region, and between Aragón’s three provinces – Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza – will be allowed from December 23 to 26 and from December 30 to January 2, but only for family gatherings, not to see allegados, as the term could lead to misunderstandings, according to the health department. In order to travel on those dates, it will be necessary to carry a declaración responsable statement certifying the purpose of the trip, said the regional executive.,Outside of these dates, the regional border will remain sealed, with each province under a perimetral lockdown.

The 11pm to 6am curfew will remain in place, but will be extended to 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Between December 23 and January 6, residents of senior homes may temporarily leave the premises to stay with relatives who have not been diagnosed with coronavirus or are in self-isolation.

Non-essential stores will be able to open until 10pm, bar service will be allowed and restaurants will be able to open at 100% capacity in outdoor spaces and 30% indoors. The capacity of museums, cinemas and other cultural centers will be increased to 50%.

Asturias

Between December 23 and January 6, travel in and out of the region will be allowed for visits to see family and allegados. In a bid to prevent outbreaks in family homes, visitors aged between 18 and 30 who arrive in the region on these dates and will be staying with seniors over the age of 65 or other at-risk groups, must take a PCR test. On December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6, social gatherings will be limited to 10 people from a maximum of two household groups. Outside of these dates, the limit will be six.

Balearic Islands

From December 20, visitors who arrive in the Balearic Islands from a region where the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 150 must present a negative PCR test if coming for tourism, or take an antigen test upon arrival if arriving for a justified reason.

On the island of Mallorca, social gatherings will be limited to six people from two different household groups, although both family and allegados will be allowed to get together. The nighttime curfew between 10pm and 6am will remain in place, even on Christmas Eve, although this measure will be revised on December 28. Indoor areas of restaurants will remain closed. Only service in outdoor eating areas and for takeaway is currently allowed, and restaurants have to close at 6pm on Fridays, Saturdays and the days before public holidays.

In Menorca, the curfew is between 12pm and 6am, and social gatherings are limited to six people. In Ibiza, the limit on gatherings is six for indoor spaces and 10 for outdoor areas. In Formentera, the limit is 10 and 20, respectively. The two islands are under the same curfew as Menorca.

Canary Islands

From December 23 to January 10, the Canary Islands will be under a curfew from 1am to 6am, which will be pushed back to 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Social gatherings will be limited to six people for most of this period, except on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6, when up to 10 people from two households will be able to get together.

Tenerife, however, is subject to stricter rules due to the rise of coronavirus cases on the island. The island will remain under a perimetral lockdown until the beginning of 2021. Social gatherings will be limited to four people, except on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6, when the limit is six from two households. Restaurants are only allowed to open outdoor dining areas, and at 50% capacity.

All visitors to the Canary Islands, except for children under the age of six, must arrive with a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours before their arrival. The order will remain in place until January 10.

Foreign visitors will need to provide a PCR or TMA test, while an antigen test is valid for travelers coming from Spain. The regional government announced that it would allow foreign visitors enter the region with the faster and less expensive antigen test, but this measure was overruled last week by the Constitutional Court.

Cantabria

Travel to and from Cantabria will be permitted between December 23 and January 6 for visits to see family and allegados. Social gatherings will be limited to 10 people on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, and to six during the rest of the holiday period. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the curfew will be pushed back from 10pm to 1.30am but only to allow people to return home from family dinners, not for social gatherings.

Since December 12, residents in Cantabria have been able to travel to different municipalities within the region. The restrictions on the hostelry sector, however, have remained in place: service is only allowed in outdoor eating areas, and establishments must close at 10pm.

Castilla-La Mancha

Citizens will be able to travel to and from Castilla-La Mancha to see family and allegados between December 23 and January 6. The curfew during this period will run from 12pm to 6am, except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when it will be pushed back to 1.30am.

On December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, social gatherings will be limited to 10 people from different households – including children – although more than 10 are allowed if they all live together.

Castilla y León

Travel in and out of the region will be allowed between December 23 and 26, December 30 and January 2, and January 5 and 6, but only to visit family – not allegados. The region will remain under a 10pm-6am curfew, except for December 24 and 31, when it will start at 1.30am. The six-person limit on social gatherings will remain in place, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when the number will be increased to 10. Restaurants will have to close by 10pm and stop service at 9pm.

Catalonia

From December 21 to January 11, Catalonia will be subject to tighter coronavirus restrictions. Social gatherings will be limited to six people, except for December 24, 25, 26, 31 and January 1 and 6, when the limit will be increased to 10 – but only between members of two different households. The current curfew, which is between 10pm and 6am, will start at 1am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day and at 11pm on January 5.

Groups of up to six people will be able to gather in restaurants and bars on December 24, 25, 26 and 31, as well as January 1, although capacity will depend on what phase of the deescalation plan the region is in at the time. The hostelry sector will also be able to open until 1am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Catalonia will keep its border sealed, except for visits to see family or allegados. Within the region, each comarca – an administrative area in some parts of Spain – will remain under a perimetral lockdown until January 11. Travel to a different comarca is also allowed if it is to go to a second home with the same household group.

Bars and restaurants can open in two time slots: from 7.30am to 9.30am for breakfast, and from 1pm to 3.30pm for lunch. Takeaway food service will be available until 11pm. Capacity of indoor dining areas is limited to 30%. Gyms and restaurants that are located inside shopping centers will remain closed.

Valencia region

The regional government of Valencia announced last week that the border will remain sealed until January 15. Travel in or out of the region to see family or allegados is banned until this date. Allowances are made for residents returning home, for work reasons or other reasons of force majeure outlined in the current state of alarm.

Social gatherings will be limited to six people throughout the entire holiday period, even on Christmas Eve and Christmas. The curfew will begin at 11pm, except for December 24 and December 31, when it will be pushed back to midnight.

Extremadura

Under new rules announced recently, Extremadura will be under a 12.30am curfew on December 24 and 31, and midnight the rest of the time. On these dates, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather as long as they are from a maximum of two different households. The rest of the days, there is a six-person limit in homes and 10-person limit in bars and restaurants.The region will close its border between December 23 and January 6, but allow citizens to enter and leave if visiting family members (not allegados).

Galicia

Galicia will seal its border between December 23 and January 6, but will allow visits to see family and allegados. Social gatherings will be limited to six people from different households not including children. There will be a curfew from 11pm to 6am during the holiday periods, which is not expected to change on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

The regional government has set out restrictions based on four levels of risk. Bars and restaurants in municipalities at most risk have to close at 5pm, while those in the municipalities with the best epidemiological situation can open until 11pm.

La Rioja

The border of La Rioja will remain closed, but between December 23 and 26, and December 30 to January 2, residents will be able to enter and leave to see family and allegados. On these dates, bars and restaurants will be able to open until 8pm.

The current curfew from 11pm to 5am will be extended on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to 1.30am. Celebrations on these dates will be limited to 10 people, save for families that have more than 10 members.

Madrid

Madrid will close its border from December 23 to January 6, but allow travel to see family and allegados. On Friday, the regional government reduced the limits on social gatherings from 10 to six people from a maximum of two households, for December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6. Regional authorities also called on the public to wear a face mask at all times, except for when eating and drinking, both in homes and in restaurants. The curfew will be pushed back until 1.30am on December 24 and January 1.

Six basic healthcare areas, which are smaller than a district and may include several primary healthcare centers, will be under a perimetral lockdown until December 28 – Andrés Mellado (in Chamberí district) and Sanchinarro (Hortaleza) in the city of Madrid, and Felipe II and Bartolomé González (Móstoles), Getafe Norte (Getafe) and La Moraleja (Alcobendas) in the rest of the region.

Murcia

The regional government of Murcia is expected to relax restrictions on December 24, 25 and 31, and January 1, with up to 10 people allowed at social gatherings on these dates. The curfew on these days will also be pushed back to 1.30am. Currently, there is a six-person limit on social gatherings, while the curfew begins at 11pm. The region will keep its border closed between December 23 and January 6, with exceptions for visits to see family and allegados.

Navarre

Navarre will seal its border until January 14, but allow people to enter and leave the region to see family and allegados between December 23 and 26, and between December 30 and January 2. The current curfew between 11pm and 6am will remain in place, except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when it will start at 1.30am.

On these dates, a maximum of 10 people, including children, will be able to gather, as long as they don’t come from more than two different households. During the rest of the holiday period, there will be a six-person limit on social gatherings between two different households. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open at 30% capacity in indoor areas and remain open until 11pm. There will be no limits on capacity in outdoor areas, but no more than four people – or six if there is more than 1.5 meters of distance between tables – are allowed at a table. Takeaway food service will be available until 11.30pm.

Basque Country

The Basque government has ruled out for now toughening its coronavirus rules for the Christmas holidays. There will continue to be a curfew between 10pm and 6am, except on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve, when it will be pushed to 1.30am. The perimetral lockdown of the region will be lifted between December 23 and 26, and between December 31 and January 2, to allow trips to see family and allegados. From December 23, residents will be able to travel to a different province within the region.

Social gatherings will be limited to six people over the holiday period, except on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when the limit will be 10.

In areas where the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is above 500, bars and restaurants will remain closed, unless serving takeaway food, which will be available until 9pm. In all other areas, the hostelry sector will open, but bar service will be prohibited.

Ceuta and Melilla

In Ceuta, a Spanish exclave city in North Africa, the regional government has not yet published the Health Ministry’s agreement on Christmas restrictions. Sources from the executive say that travel to and from the exclave will likely be allowed for family gatherings between December 23 and January 6. The current four-person limit on social gatherings may be increased but it is not yet clear to how many. The current curfew between 11pm and 6am is likely to be pushed back to 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. These measures will be adapted based on the evolution of the pandemic.

In Melilla, travel in and out of the exclave city will be allowed between December 23 and January 6 for visits to see family and allegados. The current four-person limit on social gatherings will remain in place over this period, except for December 24, 25, 31 and on January 1 and 6, when it will be increased to 10. There will be a curfew between 11pm and 6am, which will be extended to 1am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

 

Read from source: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-12-22/christmas-in-spain-all-the-latest-coronavirus-restrictions-region-by-region.html

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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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