Authorities in Spain declared a nationwide state of emergency Oct. 25 as part of ongoing efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure will initially remain in force for a period of 15 days, i.e. through Nov. 9; however, officials have indicated that it could be extended for six months through May 9, 2021. The directive empowers the government to limit certain rights guaranteed under the nation's constitution, including freedom of movement. Accordingly, a 2300-0600 curfew will be in effect throughout Spain, excluding the Canary Islands, as part of the state of emergency; autonomous communities have the authority to amend the nightly curfew locally by setting the start and end times one hour earlier or later. Moreover, regional governments may lift the curfew on Nov. 9 if their local epidemiological situations warrant.

Authorities have also tightened restrictions in the Balearic Islands. Bars and restaurants may only serve patrons seated at tables; no more than six people are allowed per table. Places of worship and gyms are limited to operating at 30-percent capacity. Indoor cultural events may not exceed 25 attendees, while outdoor cultural events may not exceed 50 attendees. Shopping centers may operate at 50-percent capacity. Alcohol may not be sold at any establishment after 2200. On the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, public and private gatherings of more than six people are prohibited; residents are advised to remain in their homes except for essential purposes.

Authorities had previously tightened restrictions in Catalonia effective Oct. 16. Bars and restaurants in the region are closed until at least Oct. 30; however, takeout and delivery services are permitted. In addition, shops are limited to operating at 30-percent capacity, while gyms may operate at 50-percent capacity. Furthermore, casinos and bingo halls remain closed, as do services that require physical contact, except for barbershops and hair salons.

A local state of emergency expired in Madrid on Oct. 24. However, public and private gatherings remain limited to six people, and parks are closed. Stores and other commercial establishments operate at 50-percent capacity and must close by 2200, with the exception of pharmacies and gas stations.

Spain is currently prohibiting most international arrivals with the exception of those traveling from the EEA, Switzerland, and the UK, as well as 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 persons traveling to the country by air must complete. After filling out the form, travelers will receive a Quick Response (QR) code that they must show on arrival at the airport.

Most nonessential businesses, bars, and restaurants throughout the country have reopened. People may visit 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.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

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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