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

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

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

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

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

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

Andalusia

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

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

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

Aragón

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

Nightlife:  100 percent capacity and normal closing hours.

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

Asturias

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

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

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

Balearic Islands

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

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

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

Basque Country

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

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

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

Cantabria

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

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

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

Canary Islands

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

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

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

Castilla- La Mancha

Bars and restaurants:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Nightlife:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

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

Castilla Y León

Bars and restaurants:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

Nightlife:  no capacity restrictions or time limits.

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

Catalonia 

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

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

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

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

Extremadura

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

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

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

Galicia

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

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

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

Madrid

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

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

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

Murcia

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

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

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

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

Navarre

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

Nightlife:  No capacity or opening hour limits

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

La Rioja 

Bars and restaurants:  No capacity or opening hour limits

Nightlife:  No capacity or opening hour limits

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

Valencia region 

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

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

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

Spain

In Spain, relief over Covid slowdown is offset by spike among children

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The sixth coronavirus wave in Spain is slowing. This can be clearly seen in the national data: the number of daily cases is stabilizing, and more importantly still, so too are hospital admissions for Covid-19, which is a more reliable sign of the change in trend.

There are regions, such as Navarre and the Basque Country, where the number of detected infections is clearly falling.

And there is another sign that contagions are falling beyond the official case count: the presence of the virus in wastewater. In Madrid, the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 has dropped 25% in the last two weeks. It is an important sign because it does not depend on how many tests are carried out and how many positives are reported, which is a changing protocol.

Looking at the figures, it could be said that cases are falling and that they will continue to do so. But there is another data point that raises concern.

Coronavirus cases are rising very quickly among children. This can be seen at a national level. Since Kings Day on January 6, the number of infections detected among children and teenagers has started to rise again. For children under the age of nine, the seven-day incidence rate has gone from 1,300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 1,900 in just a week.

This trend can be seen in data from Catalonia: cases among children shot up in the second week of January.

The problem is how to interpret these spikes. One possibility is that they simply reflect a rise in contagions following the national holiday and return to school. But it could also be that what has risen is not the number of cases, but rather the number of cases being detected.

Has there been a change in protocols that has improved the detection of infections among children since Christmas? Or has the return to schools, which have guidelines on reporting cases, led to more cases being detected? Researcher Clara Prats, from Catalonia’s Polytechnic University, provided data that would suggest this has been the case: the positivity rate among children – i.e. the percentage of Covid-19 tests that come back positive out of the total – has fallen from 50% in December to 25%. In other words, more cases are being detected, in part because more tests are being carried out.

“We are in the most difficult moment to say anything,” said Saúl Ares, a systems biologist and investigator at Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC), after studying the epidemiological curve. To solve the puzzle, we will have to wait to see how key data points evolve this week: the incidence rate among children, the incidence rate among their parents and the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions.

How many people have had the virus? In two months, 3.5 million coronavirus cases have been detected in Spain, but the real number could be three or five times higher, i.e. between 10 and 15 million. The United Kingdom carries out random surveys and these suggest that there are three contagions for every case detected. Meanwhile in the United States, some epidemiologists argue that there are four or five infections for every one reported. Spain has a higher positivity rate than both those nations, meaning detection in the country could be even worse.

Between 20% and 30% of Spaniards may have had Covid-19 between November and now. And this figure could double as the sixth wave descends.

These are tremendous figures. As biologist Trevor Bedford explained on Twitter, speaking in reference to the US: “Having around 40% of the population infected by a single pathogen in the span of eight weeks is remarkable and I can’t think of an obvious modern precedent.”

Covid-19 vaccines and the fact that the highly transmissible omicron variant is less severe than previous strains has helped buffer the impact of the virus. But it is important to look closely at the number of hospitalizations and fatalities if we are to consider a future scenario in which Covid-19 is pandemic, predictable and cyclical.

Since November, there have been 68,000 hospital admissions for Covid-19, while 3,500 people have died after testing positive for the virus. Fatalities, however, are typically notified with delays. And since July? Although many people were vaccinated by July, since then, there have been 150,000 hospitalizations, 11,000 official deaths and thousands more excess deaths, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

It’s too soon to compare the virus to the flu, given that this wave has yet to end and that many of the cases detected were due to delta, not omicron. That said, it is useful to have a point of reference. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu kills in the US around 32,000 people a year, which for the population in Spain, would be the equivalent to around 4,000 or 5,000 victims. According to the European equivalent, more than 43,000 people die every year from the flu, which would also equal between 4,000 and 5,000 deaths in Spain.

For now Covid is too unpredictable to treat as a flu. As epidemiologist Adam Kucharski explained on Twitter: “A key feature of endemicity is an element of predictability – we understand what’s driving the long term dynamics, and can have some confidence about the range of likely annual outcomes.” This implies certain understanding and control as we have with the flu. But it is not clear if we are at this point with Covid-19.

How many hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 could there be in 2023 and 2024? How likely is it that a worse variant of the virus will emerge? These uncertainties do not mean the future is bleak, nor stop us from moving towards a more normal life, but they are reasons to remain vigilant.

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With coronavirus cases on the rise, Spain adapts influenza surveillance system to Covid-19

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As the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in Spain, authorities are finalizing a plan for a new Covid-19 surveillance system that will mirror the one that has been used for years to monitor the flu. The new system will extrapolate numbers from a statistically significant sample, rather than rely on daily reporting of each and every diagnosed infection.

The system comes as case counts in Spain continue to hit new records: on Friday, the Health Ministry reported 242,440 new infections. More than seven million coronavirus cases have now been detected since the beginning of the pandemic. Speaking on Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that most of the cases being registered were asymptomatic, adding: “We are going to have to learn to live with it [the coronavirus] as we do with many other viruses.”

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Reconstruction is underway on La Palma after volcano declared inactive

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euronews– In the district of La Laguna, on the island of La Palma, excavators continue to dig their way through the lava flows, with the aim of restoring connections as soon as possible.

The long process of reconstruction is underway in the Canary Islands after a volcanic eruption that lasted almost 100 days.

The eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which began on September 19, finally came to an official end on December 25.

Excavators are now building a platform from which to work, while firefighters pour water on the solidified lava, still steaming hot.

Only a few metres separate the buildings which have been spared by the lava flow, from those which have not.

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