Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Spanish authorities ease further COVID-19 restrictions in some areas from May 11; will introduce 14-day quarantine for arrivals from May 15.

This alert affects Spain

This alert began 12 May 2020 13:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Spanish authorities are allowing around 50 percent of territories in the country to progress to Phase 1 of the government's four-phase recovery plan aimed at lifting restrictions imposed to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Individuals in these regions will be able to travel within their region and gather in groups of up to 10 people. Furthermore, in Phase 1 areas, museums, houses of worship, markets, restaurants, cafes, and bars are permitted to reopen, though operating at significantly reduced capacity. Officials anticipate this phase will last for at least two weeks. Specific periods for different age groups to exercise will remain in effect, though local authorities are empowered to alter them.

Spanish authorities are maintaining the rest of the country at Phase 0, the preparatory phase, for the time being. Madrid and Barcelona are included in the areas remaining at Phase 0. The preparatory phase began on May 4 with certain small businesses - such as hardware stores and restaurants - allowed to reopen for pick-up service only on an appointment basis. Hair salons, barbershops, and personal fitness training sessions were also allowed to reopen. All businesses opening during the preparatory phase will be required to implement strict precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment and allowing only one client inside the establishment at a time. During the preparatory phase, gatherings and unnecessary travel remain prohibited, and many nonessential businesses and cultural sites remain closed.

In addition, from May 15, authorities will require all international arrivals to self-isolate for 14-days. During the self-isolation period, individuals may only leave their residence for essential purposes, such as buying groceries or seeking medical attention. This measure will not apply to freight transport workers, aircraft crew members, and cross-border workers. Authorities are maintaining controls at air, land, and sea borders; most foreign nationals remain barred from entering Spain. Persons exempt from this measure include residents of Spain, Schengen Area residents transiting to their home countries, cross-border commuters for essential work, diplomats, and others with exceptional circumstances. These restrictions are in effect through at least May 24, though this is likely to be reviewed.

The Ministry of Health is monitoring the evolution of disease activity in the country and will continue to make decisions on progression through the four-phase 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 are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

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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