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CHRISTMAS

UPDATE: Spain’s current coronavirus restrictions in each region

The festive season in Spain will be marked by travel restrictions, curfews and limits on the number of people allowed to celebrate together but these will differ from region to region and are also subject to change if infection rates rise.

UPDATE: Spain's current coronavirus restrictions in each region
Photos: AFP

Spain’s government had agreed a general plan with the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Healthcare System on December 2 as part of the State of Alarm measures but on December 16held another meeting and agreed that the regions be allowed to impose stricter measures if they see fit.

The Health Ministry has published an interactive map that allows you to check the restrictions currently in place in each of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

 

So here’s what we know so far:

The Health Ministry plan restricts travel between regions over the entire holiday period between December 23 and January 6 although it allows exceptions for visiting family and closest friends (described as allegados, a term that has proved controversial).

It extends the limit on gatherings from six to ten people on  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day  and will also delay curfew until 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The 10-person limit includes children, and the official recommendation is for people to limit the number of households celebrating together to reduce risks.

All sporting events, such as the traditional race of San Silvestre, a run which takes place on New Year's Eve in cities across Spain,  are cancelled and so too are events which draw crowds such as New Year’s Eve celebration in public squares (campanada) and the Three King  parades (cabagatas)

For more details on the Health Ministry plan READ HERE:

Within these guidelines, regional authorities have adopted their own measures so here’s a look at each one:

Andalusia

Spain’s southern region of Andalusia will on December 18 lift restrictions that have been in place since November and allow people to once again travel between its eight provinces.

However the ban on travel to and from other regions will remain in place until at least January 10  except between December 23 and January 6 when it will allow people to enter for the purposes of visiting family – but it has not included the term allegados (close friends).

A curfew is in place between 11pm and 6am except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when it is delayed until 1.30am.

Social gatherings are limited to six people except on December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st and 6th when ten are allowed.

From December 18 restaurants across the entire region will be allowed to open from the morning until 6pm and from 8pm until 10.30 pm.

The number of people allowed in shops, restaurants, on public transport and at religious events will depend on the level of alert of each municipality.

Full details can be found at the interactive map published by the regional government HERE:

Aragon

The regional border will remain closed except between the dates of December 23 and 26 and December 30 and January 2 when an exception will be made for those travelling to meet family only – Aragon has also chosen not to include the term allegados.

Travel between the three provinces of Aragon – Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza – is also not allowed except between the above dates and for family visits only.

A declaration form must be filled out for all trips across provincial and regional borders in Aragon which can be found HERE.

Curfew run betweens 11pm until 6am except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when it is delayed until 1.30am.

Social gatherings are limited to six people except on December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st when ten are allowed in private homes.

At present bars and restaurants have limited capacity and must close at 8pm but will be allowed to open until 10pm on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Asturias

Travel in and out of the territory is banned except between December 23 and January 1 when an exception is made for those visiting family and close friends. (Asturias has chosen to allow allegados).

On December 24th, 25th, 31st, January 1st and January 6 social gatherings of ten people are allowed as long as they represent no more than two households but at all other times meetings must be capped at six people.

Visitors from outside the region aged between 18 and 30 must take a PCR test if they will be visiting households where over-65s or at-risk people will also be staying.

Balearic Islands

There is no travel ban on entering or leaving the islands but each island has different rules in place depending on its risk level.

But those arriving from outside the islands must present a negative PCR test or agree to isolate until an antigen test taken on arrivall comes back negative.

Mallorca currently is at level four which means a maximum of six people at social gatherings from only two households and this currently includes all dates over Christmas and New year, though it may be reviewed.

In Mallorca the curfew runs from 10pm until 6am while elsewhere on the islands it’s in place from midnight while the inside of bars and restaurants are required to close at 10pm except on Fridays and Saturdays on Christmas Eve, New Year’s eve when they will close at 6pm.

The other islands – Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera – the curfew starts at midnight and ends at 6am except on Christmas and New Year’s Eve when it is delayed until 1.30am.

Social gatherings are capped across the islands to six people inside (except Formentera which allows ten) but on all those except Mallorca, the limit increases to ten people on December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st and 6 in line with state rules.

 

 Canary Islands

The government of the Canary Islands have decided to ban non-essential travel to the island of Tenerife from Friday December 18th after a recent surge in infections.

For a period of two weeks, travel between municipalities on the island should be avoided, social gatherings would be limited to four people except on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 and 6 when a limit of six is in place from a maximum of two households.The curfew would be brought forward to 10pm.

Tourists however, both from mainland Spain and abroad, are exempt from the travel ban provided they have accommodation booked and can show a negative Covid-19 test that was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. 

Across all the Canary Islands apart from Tenerife, a curfew will be in place between December 23 and January 6 from 1am to 6am with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, when the limitation will start at the 1.30am.

All  foreign visitors to the islands will need to provide a PCR or TMA test (also known as a LAMP test), while an antigen test is valid for travelers coming from Spain.

Cantabria

The region has been closed since November 4th and will remain so over the Christmas period but it will allow make an exception for visits to family and close friends between December 23 and January 6 in accordance with Spain’s Health Ministry guidelines.

It will also extend the limit on the number of people allowed to meet from six to ten on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve as well as Christmas Day and and New Year’s Day.

A curfew is in place from 10pm until 6am except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when it is delayed until 1.30am.

Castilla y Leon

The region will remain closed until at least January 10 with exceptions for travel to visit family (not close friends) between December 23 and December 26, December 30 and January 2 and January 5 to January 6.

A curfew is in place from 10pm until 6am except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when it is delayed until 1.30am

It will also extend the limit on the number of people allowed to meet from six to ten on the dates of December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 but recommends that groups are limited to a maximum of two households.

Castilla-La Mancha

Regional borders will remain closed over the Christmas period but it will allow make an exception for visits to family and friends between December 23 and January 6 in accordance with Spain’s Health Ministry guidelines.

It will also extend the limit on the number of people allowed to meet from six to ten on the dates of December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 but recommends that groups are limited to those within the same household or a maximum of two.

 A curfew is in place from midnight until 6am except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and January 5 when it is delayed until 1.30am

Catalonia

 

 

Regional borders will remain closed over the Christmas period but it makes an exception for visits to family and close friends between December 23 and January 6 in accordance with Spain’s Health Ministry guidelines.

In addition Catalonia extended a ban on travelling between comarcas (counties) from December 21 until January 11, although it makes exceptions for visits to family and close friends (allegados) or to stay in a second residence or hotel.

Anyone travelling between comarcas or across regional borders must fill in a declaration form which can be downloaded HERE

A curfew across the whole region at all times between 10pm and 6am but will be delayed to 1am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Social gatherings are restricted to six people but this will be extended to ten people on the important dates over Christmas holidays but limited to two households.

Restaurants and bars will only be allowed to open for limited hours over breakfast and lunch and must remain closed (except for take-away service) in the evenings.

Valencia

Valencia announced that it will seal off its borders completely over the Christmas and New Year period and not make an exemption for those wanting to visit family and friends contrary to guidelines issued by Spain’s Health Ministry.

Regional premier Ximo Puig at a news conference on Thursday evening said that until January 15, the only people allowed into the region will be those returning to their primary place of residence or because of justified reasons that include work or study.

The region has also capped social gatherings to six people from two households on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, instead of extending it to ten, as allowed under the state guidelines.

The curfew will be delayed only until midnight on December 24 and 31 but kept at 11pm on all other days.

Madrid

 

Regional authorities in Madrid announced that it will not extend the limit allowed for social gatherings to ten people on those important Christmas dates but that groups must remain capped at six and with a maximum of two households.

The region will close its perimeter only between December 23 and January 6 but will make an exception for people to come and go if visiting family or close friends (allegados).

A justification form needs to be filled out by all travellers and can be downloaded HERE.

The curfew will be delayed from midnight to 1.30 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Galicia

The region has no perimeter confinement around the region but it will do so following national guidelines between December 23 and January 6 except for those visiting family.

Visitors who arrive from places deemed high risk which includes Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, the Balearic Islands, Valencia and Extremadura as well as abroad must register their arrival in Galicia with health authorities within 24 hours. The form to do that can be downloaded HERE. 

Social gatherings are limited to six even on the important holidays although children under ten are not included in this number. But the recommendation is that celebrations should just include one family unit although they can add one other if, for example, that person was elderly and lived alone.

The curfew is in place between 11pm until 6am except on Christmas Eve when it is delayed until 1.30 am. No decision has yet been taken to delay curfew on New Year’s Eve.

Other restrictions are in place in various municipalities across the region which are under perimetral confinement except between midnight on December 23 and 11pm on December 25th to allow people to visit close family.  For full info look at the interactive map below:

Extremadura

The region is one of the few in Spain which has not imposed a perimeter confinement around the region but it will close its regional borders following national guidelines between December 23 and January 6 except for those visiting family (but not close friends).

Social gatherings are limited to six in both private homes and restaurants except on December 24 and December 31 when ten are allowed from the same family. (friends are not permitted).

The curfew will be delayed from midnight until 12.30am for those returning home on the nights of  December 24 and  December 31

Murcia

The ban on travel in and out of Murcia will only be lifted between December 23 and 6 for those visiting family but not close friends, after authorities removed that exception following rising infections. 

On the dates of December 24, December 25 and December 31 and January 1 social gathering has been extended from six to ten although with a recommendation that involves a maximum of three family units.

The curfew will be delayed from 11pm until 1.30 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Bars and restaurants must close between 6pm and 9pm on the dates of December 24, 25, 31 and January 1.

Basque Country

The ban on travel in and out of the Basque Country will only be lifted between December 23 to 26 and December 30 to January 2 for those visiting family and close friends. Those doing so will have to complete the justification form required by regional authorities HERE

Social gatherings are limited to six except on December 24, December 25 and December 31 and January 1 when ten are allowed although from a maximum of two households.

The curfew will be delayed from 10pm until 1.30 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Navarra

The ban on travel in and out of Navarra will only be lifted between December 23 to 26and December 30 to January 2 for those visiting family and close friends.

Travellers must fill in a form if crossing regional borders which can be downloaded HERE

Social gatherings are limited to six except on December 24, December 25 and December 31 and January 1 when ten are allowed although from a maximum of two households.

The curfew will be delayed from 11pm until 1.30 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

La Rioja

The ban on travel in and out of La Rioja will only be lifted between December 23 to 26 and December 30 to January 2 for those visiting family and close friends.

Travellers must fill in a declaration form to justify the visit which can be downloaded HERE.

Between those same dates restaurants and bars must close by 8pm except for take-away service.

Social gatherings are limited to six except on December 24, December 25 and December 31 and January 1 when ten are allowed although from a maximum of two households.

The curfew will be delayed from 11pm until 1.30 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

READ MORE: 

 

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FACE MASKS

How likely is it that Spain will make face masks mandatory indoors again?

Face masks ceased to be obligatory indoors in Spain in late April 2022, but could the recent rise in Covid-19 cases force the Spanish government to reconsider whether the rule should be brought back?

How likely is it that Spain will make face masks mandatory indoors again?

Just a little over two months since the indoor mask rule was dropped, Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias has recommended people wear face masks again in indoor public settings, as Covid cases and hospitalisations in late June and early July returned to levels not seen since February 2022.

READ ALSO: Spain calls for return of face masks indoors as Covid cases rise

With Spain currently in the midst of an eighth Covid wave, face masks are currently only mandatory on public transport, in pharmacies, health centres and care homes, but could the Spanish government make them obligatory in all indoor public spaces once again?

For over two years, the use of face masks was required in indoor public spaces in Spain and for some of that time, they were required outdoors too.

Masks became an integral part of life in Spain, from serving to make political statements to becoming a fashion accessory. They changed the way Spaniards greeted each other and even caused psychological problems among young people who became scared of showing their faces in public.

For the past few months, aided by the government’s policy of treating Covid-19 like an endemic disease similar to the flu, and their decision to lift quarantine for mild and asymptomatic cases and ceasing to count all cases, many people have ended up assuming that the pandemic was over.

This was further fuelled by the return of mass events such as festivals and concerts. In Barcelona, the Primavera Sound music festival returned for the first time since the start of the pandemic but was marred by several high-profile bands having to cancel because of Covid-19 infections. Threads on social media also suggest that many festival-goers caught Covid-19 while at the event.

Spain is currently experiencing what the Spanish media have dubbed a new “silent Covid wave” as there are hardly any restrictions and no official figures on the true number of people who have become infected recently.

According to the latest data from Spain’s Ministry of Health, Covid-19 hospitalisations have increased by 21 percent in the last seven days (that’s among people aged 60 or older and serious cases) and the number in the ICU has shot up by 16 percent.

On Wednesday July 7th, ministry data showed that 11,586 were in hospital with Covid-19 in Spain and 502 were in the ICU.

What each region’s health authorities think about the return of face masks

As usual, each of Spain’s 17 regions has slightly differing opinions on the use of face masks, but the general consensus is that most of them are recommending wearing masks indoors once again, particularly for the vulnerable and the elderly. 

Madrid

Madrid’s Vice President Enrique Ossorio suggested that masks should be reintroduced in certain situations, due to the rise of cases seen in the region. Masks should be worn by “vulnerable people, those who are immunosuppressed and those who are pregnant,” he argued.

Ossorio also recommended that the use of face masks be extended to enclosed public spaces and large events.

Catalonia

Catalan Health Minister Josep Maria Argimon recommended that those recovering from Covid should continue to wear a mask due to the increase in Covid patients admitted to the ICU in the region, which has increased from 26 to 46 in the space of just three weeks.  

Valencia

The government of Valencia has issued an alert after Covid cases in the region more than doubled in the week leading up to July 4th and has also asked for the return of masks in indoor settings.

The president of the Valencia College of Nursing Laura Almudéver also recommended on Monday July 4th that people should return to wearing masks in indoor spaces, where a distance from others couldn’t be maintained.

Canary Islands

The head of the Immunology Department of the Canary Island government Amós García Rojas on July 3rd explained that due to the rise in cases on the islands, it would be “necessary to maintain certain restrictions”. 

However, he did not rule out the need to “take measures” again, to protect the elderly and the vulnerable. “Perhaps the obligation to wear a mask indoors may be reintroduced if the situation does not improve,” he continued.  

Andalusia  

The Andalusian government has not commented on the general use of masks indoors but has insisted that they will not become mandatory again in schools and has also stated that they will continue to be required on public transport.

Balearic Islands  

The Health Minister of the Balearic Islands´ government Patricia Gómez Picard has said that it’s “advisable” for the vulnerable to wear masks in indoor public spaces but has ruled out mandatory measures.

Will face masks become mandatory again in Spain?

As face mask rules fall under national legislation and not regional, it’s up to Spain’s national government to decide and not the individual regions. 

As the situation stands, the national Health Ministry has ruled out making masks compulsory again.

“We’re calling for caution as we always do when there is a considerable increase in the infection rate,” Health Minister Carolina Darias told journalists in early July.

“But when it comes to face masks, it’s a recommendation, because we’ve got an extremely high vaccination rate with 95 million doses having been administered”.

So it seems highly unlikely that masks will become compulsory again in all outdoor or indoor settings in Spain in the near future, despite rising infections.

It could well be that the indoor places where it’s still mandatory to wear a mask – public transport, health centres and care homes – continue to have this rule throughout the summer, perhaps even longer.

But a return to the across-the-board rule won’t happen unless any new Covid-19 subvariants have different and severe symptoms that escape the effectiveness of current vaccines.

The new Omicron subvariants BA4 and BA5 are more transmissible and research shows they can evade vaccination immunity, but their symptoms are milder than previous variants.

Remember as well that the fact that masks are not mandatory in almost all situations currently in Spain does not mean you shouldn’t wear one in certain situations where you think you could be more at risk of catching the virus.

Spanish virologists and health experts such as Quique Bassat, José Manuel Bautista, María del Mar Tomás or José de las Morenas all believe that in the current context of increased prevalence of Covid-19, it’s common sense to take extra precautions in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor areas.

You don’t have to of course, nobody is forcing you to anymore in almost all daily situations, but it’s up to you if you’d rather wear a mask for a few minutes or feel unwell for several days, as well as potentially infect your loved ones who are vulnerable.

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