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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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Spain reports first case of Omicron Covid variant

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thelocal– Spain said Monday it had detected its first case of the new Omicron strain of Covid-19 in a man who had recently arrived from South Africa.

The 51-year-old was tested when he arrived at Madrid airport on Sunday via Amsterdam and was found to be positive, the regional government of Madrid said in a statement.

“The patient has light symptoms and is undergoing quarantine,” the statement added.

Earlier on Monday, Madrid’s Gregorio Maranon Hospital tweeted that its microbiology service had detected the first case of the Omicron variant in Spain, without giving further details.

The World Health Organization has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” and countries around the world are now restricting travel from southern Africa, where the new strain was first detected, and taking other new precautions.

The WHO says it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity or implications for Covid vaccines, tests and treatments.

Several other European nations, including Belgium, Britain and Germany have detected cases of the variant, which was first detected in South Africa.

On Friday, Spanish authorities suspended flights with South Africa and Botswana in reaction to growing concerns over the new variant which was first detected in the South African city of Pretoria.

The following day, Spain’s Health Ministry put Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe on its new high-risk list.

Travellers who are able to reach Spain from these nations will have to present a negative PCR or NAAT test taken within 72 hours prior to travel to Spain even if they are fully vaccinated.

They must also go into quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Spain, or for their whole stay if it’s under 10 days.

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Spanish researchers pave way for fair play in global Covid testing and research

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thelocal– The World Health Organisation described the accord as the first transparent, global, non-exclusive licence for a Covid-19 health tool, that should help towards correcting the “devastating global inequity” in access.

The deal brings the Spanish National Research Council CSIC together with the global Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) knowledge-sharing platform.

“The aim of the licence is to facilitate the rapid manufacture and commercialisation of CSIC’s Covid-19 serological test worldwide,” the WHO said.

The test effectively detects anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies developed in response to either a Covid-19 infection or a vaccine.

CSIC, one of Europe’s main public research institutions, will provide the MPP or prospective licencees with know-how and training.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the licence, which will be royalty-free for low and middle-income countries, as “the kind of open and transparent licence we need to move the needle on access during and after the pandemic”.

He added: “I urge developers of Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics to follow this example and turn the tide… on the devastating
global inequity this pandemic has spotlighted.”

C-TAP was founded in May 2020 as a platform for developers of Covid-19 tools to share knowledge and intellectual property.

Set up during the scramble for Covid vaccines and treatments, the health technology repository was first suggested by Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado.

The information pool was intended as a voluntary global bank for IP and open-sourced data as part of a common front against the new coronavirus.

However, as it turned out, rival pharmaceutical companies have largely kept their findings to themselves rather than sharing them as global public goods.

Tuesday’s deal “shows that solidarity and equitable access can be achieved”, said Alvarado.

CSIC president Rosa Menéndez said she hoped the move would serve as an example for other research organisations.

‘Preposterous’ tests hoarding

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the test could quantify three different types of antibodies — and crucially, differentiate vaccinated people from those with natural Covid infection.

“This feature will become very important for measuring the number of Covid-19 cases in countries and the impact of control measures,” it said.

In welcoming CSIC’s move, MSF diagnostics adviser Stijn Deborggraeve said it was “preposterous” in a global pandemic that tests were being monopolised by “a handful of privileged people and countries”.

The Geneva-based MPP is a UN-backed international organisation that works to facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income nations.

The antibody test licensing accord is the third Covid-related deal that the global pool has struck in a month.

Last week, the MPP reached an agreement with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to make its prospective antiviral Covid-19 pill available more cheaply in 95 low- and middle-income countries via sub-licensing to generic drug manufacturers.

The MPP signed a similar deal last month with Pfizer’s US rival Merck for its prospective oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir.

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In 2 days, 10 migrants die trying to reach Spanish islands

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euronews– Spanish rescuers say 10 migrants have died while trying to reach the Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

Rescuers said Monday they found a migrant boat drifting 200 kilometres from the Canary Islands and saved 40 people but recovered two bodies.

The boat is believed to have departed from Dakhla on the coast of Western Sahara five days ago. A Spanish rescue plane spotted it drifting in the Atlantic Ocean. At least five people had to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital on the island of Gran Canaria for urgent medical attention. The other survivors were being brought back to the port of Arguineguín on the same island in one of Spain’s rescue ships.

Some 900 migrants have reportedly died or gone missing on the dangerous migration route from West Africa to the Canary Islands, according to the U.N. migration agency. Experts say even that number is an undercount as many migrant ships sink with no confirmation.

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