Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Spain extends state of alarm to June 6, continues to ease measures introduced to control spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This alert affects Spain

This alert began 21 May 2020 12:41 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Spanish officials voted to extend the nationwide state of alarm, which empowers the government to curtail freedom of movement, to June 6 in order to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Despite this extension, Spanish authorities continue to ease measures imposed to combat COVID-19. The islands of Formentera, Cabrera, La Graciosa, El Hierro, and La Gomera have progressed to Phase 2 of the government's four-phase recovery plan aimed at gradually lifting COVID-19-related restrictions. Shopping centers may reopen, and gatherings of up to 15 persons are now allowed. Authorities have also announced that face masks will be mandatory on public transport and in places where social distancing measures cannot be maintained.

Authorities have also allowed around 70 percent of the country to progress to Phase 1. Individuals in these regions will be able to travel within their region and gather in groups of up to 10 people. Officials will permit museums, houses of worship, markets, restaurants, cafes, and bars to reopen, though these must operate at significantly reduced capacity. Specific periods for different age groups to exercise will remain in effect, though local authorities are empowered to alter them.

Much of the country remains at Phase 0, the preparatory phase, including Madrid and Barcelona; however, restrictions in these cities have been relaxed somewhat. As of May 18, certain small businesses - such as hardware stores and restaurants - are allowed to reopen for customers without an appointment. Hair salons and barbershops are allowed to reopen, and personal fitness training sessions may resume. All businesses opening during the preparatory phase must 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.

Additionally, authorities now require many 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 does not apply to freight transport workers, aircraft crew members, cross-border workers, residents of Spain, Schengen Area residents transiting to their home countries, cross-border commuters for essential work, diplomats, and others with exceptional circumstances. Authorities are maintaining controls at air, land, and sea borders; most foreign nationals remain barred from entering Spain.

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.

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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