Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Spain to launch four-phase coronavirus recovery plan starting May 4. Business and travel disruptions likely though at least late June.

This alert affects Spain

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 20:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Spanish authorities will launch a four-phase recovery plan over the coming days aimed at lifting the restrictions that had been imposed as part of the nation's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plan will consist 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 will start on May 4, with certain small businesses - such as hardware stores and restaurants - being able to reopen for pick-up service only on an appointment basis. Hair salons, barber shops, and personal fitness training sessions will also be 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.

The initial phase could begin as early as May 11, with authorities likely 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.

Spain's existing state of emergency, which allows authorities to continue a series of nationwide restrictions, will remain in force through at least May 9. Specific restrictions include:

  • Closure of many nonessential retail businesses, with employers urged to implement telecommuting policies where possible
  • Ban on unnecessary travel
  • Suspension of demonstrations or gatherings of any type, and of public or private events of any type (including cultural, sporting, recreational, or religious events); suspension of discotheque and nightspot operations
  • Closure of resorts, swimming pools, and gyms
  • Closure of museums and other cultural sites
  • Closure of all schools and other educational institutions

These measures are in addition to 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.

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.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center