Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Spain put El Segria Region in Catalonia on indefinite lockdown from July 4. Business and travel restrictions ongoing.

  • Alert Begins: 04 Jul 2020 04:14 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 27 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions remain

Summary
Authorities in Spain put the El Sagria Region in Catalonia on indefinite lockdown from July 4 following a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the region. All non-essential travel to and from the region is prohibited, and gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Authorities in Spain previously reopened the country's land borders with Portugal on July 1 after previously closing it in March; however, authorities have introduced a mandatory Sanitary Control Form that needs to be filled out by all travelers arriving in the country by airplane from July 1. After filling out the form, travelers will receive a unique QR code that they will have to show on arrival at the airport. Spain will also allow entry for citizens of 15 non-EU countries deemed epidemiologically safe by the European Council from July 1. All travelers allowed to enter will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival.

Spain previously reopened the country's borders to travelers from most EU and Schengen Area countries as the country ended its state of emergency. Internal movement restrictions also ended June 21 as Spaniards were permitted to travel between the country's provinces for the first time since the state of emergency was initially implemented March 14.

Most nonessential businesses, bars, and restaurants have throughout the country have reopened. Hotels, shopping centers, cinemas, theaters, public pools, and places of worship have also reopened. Persons may visit public beaches and other public spaces; social distancing guidelines must be maintained. 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 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 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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