Critical Alert

Authorities in Madrid and Ibiza, Spain, to expand COVID-19 restrictions from Oct. 2; other restrictions remain in place. 

Alert Begins 01 Oct 2020 10:38 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC


  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide 
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions


Authorities announced Sept. 30 that they plan to expand the tighter restrictions that currently apply to 45 "health zones" around Madrid across the whole of the Madrid region to combat rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection rates. It is unclear when the restrictions will come into effect, but it is likely to be in the coming days. People in the impacted areas will only be allowed to enter and exit the zones on work, legal, educational, or medical grounds; nonessential travelers will be prohibited from crossing Madrid’s boundaries with other regions, though travel for work or medical purposes, or to obtain provisions, will be permitted. Public and private gatherings will be limited to six people, and parks will be closed. Stores and other commercial establishments will operate at 50-percent capacity and will close at 2200, with the exception of pharmacies and petrol stations.

Spain's regional governments voted Sept. 30 to impose similar restrictions in locations containing more than 100,000 residents if they had 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and subject to local capacity in intensive care units.

In addition, authorities have announced that new restrictions will be implemented from 2200 Oct. 3 in Ibiza Town in the Balearic Islands. Public and private gatherings of more than five people are prohibited and bars and restaurants must close at 2200. People are advised to leave their accommodation for essential purposes only.

Regional authorities may place additional localized lockdowns on specific towns at short notice to combat spikes in COVID-19 cases. Previously, authorities in Catalonia limited social gatherings in the region to 10 people, while authorities in Murcia limited social gatherings in the region to six people.

Spain is currently prohibiting most international arrivals with the exception of those traveling from the EEA, Switzerland, and the UK, and countries deemed to be epidemiologically safe, including Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, the UK, and Uruguay. 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 QR code that they will have to show on arrival at the airport.

Most nonessential businesses, bars, and restaurants throughout the country have reopened. People may visit public beaches and other public spaces; social distancing guidelines must be observed. 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 recovery plan at a local level. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and could be updated or extended in the coming days.


Background and Analysis
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.

Authorities could introduce 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, reintroduction of significant nationwide 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.

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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