Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Spanish government seeking to extend nationwide state of emergency through May 9 to stem spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Spain

This alert began 18 Apr 2020 20:28 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: State of emergency
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 9
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is seeking parliamentary approval to extend the country's existing nationwide state of emergency through May 9 as part of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the measure was originally set to expire on April 25. Sanchez' plan also seeks to relax restrictions on children's movements to allow them outside of their homes starting April 27. It remains unclear when Spain's legislature will vote on the matter; however, the prime minister's proposal will very likely be approved. This would be the third state of emergency extension passed by parliament since COVID-related restrictions first entered into force in mid-March.

The current state of emergency allows authorities to continue a series of nationwide restrictions. It also puts the country's Ministry of Interior in control of all police forces, including local and regional law enforcement departments, and the National Ministry of Health in control of all public health authorities nationwide. Related restrictions include:

  • Closure of nonessential retail businesses, with employers urged to implement telecommuting policies; essential businesses, such as grocery stores, fueling stations, pharmacies, among others, will remain open.
  • 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.

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.

Resources
Spain's Ministry of Health: mscbs.gob.es

Government of Spain (Twitter): twitter.com/desdelamoncloa

Spain's Ministry of the Interior (Twitter): twitter.com/interiorgob

World Health Organization (WHO): who.int