Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Madrid, Spain, tighten COVID-19 restrictions as of Sept. 7; other restrictions remain in place.

Alert Begins 04 Sep 2020 02:16 PM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Madrid will tighten coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions due to an increase in COVID-19 infection rates. As of Sept. 7, all social gatherings, both public and private, will be limited to 10 people, in addition to reducing permitted capacity for religious ceremonies and hospitality services. Previously, authorities in Catalonia also limited social gatherings in the region to 10 people while authorities in Murcia limited social gatherings in the region to six people. Regional authorities may place highly localized lockdowns on specific towns at short notice to combat spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Spain had been gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing entry for citizens of the EU and the Schengen Area, as well as 12 non-EU countries, deemed epidemiologically safe by the European Council. All travelers allowed to enter will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival. Authorities have introduced a mandatory Sanitary Control Form that all travelers arriving in the country by air must complete. After filling out the form, travelers will receive a QR code that they will have to show on arrival at the airport.

Most nonessential businesses, bars, and restaurants throughout the country have reopened. People may visit public beaches and other public spaces; social distancing guidelines must be observed. Protective face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in places where social distancing measures cannot be maintained.

The Ministry of Health is monitoring the evolution of disease activity in the country and will continue to make decisions on progression through the recovery plan at a local level. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Spanish government have been stricter than actions taken by other regional governments in accordance with the relative severity of the pandemic in the country. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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