Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Spain to tighten COVID-19-related restrictions in Madrid from July 30; other restrictions remain in place. 

  • Alert Begins: 28 Jul 2020 07:36 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 03 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions remain

Authorities in Madrid have tightened restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the region. Starting July 30, protective face coverings will be mandatory in public spaces, except for when engaging in sport activities. In addition, gatherings will be limited to 10 people in both public and private spaces. These measures are in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections in the Madrid Region.

Localized measures are also being implemented in parts of the Catalonia Region until at least Aug. 1. An increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections has prompted the reintroduction of business and movement restrictions in Barcelona, Lleida, Noguera district, and El Segria district. Residents are strongly advised to only leave their homes for essential trips, such as for medical appointments and purchasing essential goods. Visits to nursing homes are banned. Many leisure facilities and cultural venues have been ordered to close, including gyms and theaters. Restaurants may not exceed 50-percent capacity, and tables must be spaced at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart. Indoor and outdoor gatherings may not exceed ten persons. While nonessential retailers have not been ordered to close, all establishments must implement hygiene measures and may not exceed 50-percent capacity. Highly targeted localized measures could be imposed in other areas of varying sizes over the coming days and weeks.

Spain had been gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Internal movement restrictions were lifted June 21; residents are now permitted to travel between the country's different provinces. Authorities previously reopened the country's borders to travelers from most EU and Schengen Area countries June 21. The land border with Portugal was reopened July 1. Spain also allows entry for citizens of 13 non-EU countries deemed epidemiologically safe by the European Council. All travelers allowed to enter will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival. Authorities have introduced a mandatory Sanitary Control Form that all travelers arriving in the country by air must complete. After filling out the form, travelers will receive a unique QR code that they will have to show on arrival at the airport.

Most nonessential businesses, bars, and restaurants throughout the country have reopened. Hotels, shopping centers, cinemas, theaters, public pools, and places of worship have also reopened, with the recent exception of the Catalonia Region. People 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; a number of regions, including Catalonia, require face coverings to be worn in public at all times, including when social distancing is being observed.

The Ministry of Health is monitoring the evolution of disease activity in the country and will continue to make decisions on progression through the 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.

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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