Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Spanish authorities on May 6 extend COVID-19-related state of emergency until May 24. Transport and business disruptions ongoing.

This alert affects Spain

This alert began 06 May 2020 20:54 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 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 on May 6 extended the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related state of emergency until May 24. This will allow the government to maintain movement restrictions while gradually easing the nationwide lockdown. Specific restrictions from the state of emergency include:

  • Many nonessential retail businesses are closed, with employers urged to implement telecommuting policies where possible.
  • A ban is imposed on unnecessary travel.
  • Demonstrations or gatherings of any type are suspended, as well as public or private events of any type (including cultural, sporting, recreational, or religious events); Discotheque and nightspot operations are also suspended.
  • Resorts, swimming pools, and gyms are closed.
  • Museums and other cultural sites are closed.
  • All schools and other educational institutions are closed.


Spanish authorities previously launched a four-phase recovery plan aimed at lifting the restrictions that had been imposed as part of the nation's effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The plan consists of a preparatory phase followed by initial, intermediate, and advanced recovery phases (phases 0-3, respectively). The government in Madrid anticipates that each phase will last no less than two weeks, with the plan not being complete until the end of June at the very earliest.

The preparatory phase started 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. In addition, from May 4, the use of face masks is mandatory on all forms of public transport.

The initial phase could begin as early as May 11, with authorities possibly liberalizing travel between municipalities, albeit with travel across provincial lines remaining prohibited. Additional openings of small businesses, including hotels and tourist apartments, will occur in designated areas but with strict safety precautions in place. While no estimated time tables have been released for launching the intermediate and advanced stages, implementation of future recovery measures will almost certainly hinge on there being no significant increase in COVID-19 activity over the coming weeks.

In addition, authorities are maintaining a ban on foreign nationals entering Spain. Persons exempted 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. The restrictions do not apply to freight transport.

Restrictions may be amended with little-to-no advance notice.

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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