How life in Spain will change with the new normal

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Photo by Blair Vermette on Unsplash
11 June 2020, Emma Donaldson

With Spain’s four-phase plan to lift the strict coronavirus lockdown well underway, the return to a "new normal" is getting closer with some regions of the country ready to find out what this will look like as soon as the end of June. Spain has been living under State of Alarm conditions since 14th March 2020 and the government has extended it for what is said to be the last time. Set to end therefore on 21st June, the lifting of the State of Alarm will no longer impose movement restrictions across the country, giving way to the new normal, sometimes knows as phase 4.

As stated at the release of Spain’s reopening plan at the beginning of May, President Pedro Sánchez stated that each region would relax restrictions at a different pace, depending on the severity of the outbreak and the evolution of the pandemic. Some parts of Spain, especially the Balearic and Canary Islands, areas that have been less affected by the disease are now in the more advanced phases of the reopening plan, and are preparing to receive some (although not all) visitors from abroad. With each phase of the reopening plan in Spain incurring a change in rules and regulations, let’s see what will still apply in Spain’s new normal, especially for those thinking of travelling from abroad or going to their second home in Spain this summer.

Face masks

The obligation to wear mouth and nose protection will undoubtedly remain in the whole of Spain for a long time to come, detailed in the Spanish Government’s regulations for public life after the end of the State of Alarm. 

The obligation to wear a mask will be applicable in all public places (for example in the supermarket, shops, health centres) and in other areas where the minimum distance of 1.5 metres cannot be guaranteed with absolute certainty. Minimum fines of 100 euros will be issued to those who do not obey the rules. This also applies to outdoor use, although the interpretation is more difficult here and handling is likely to be somewhat more relaxed.

Note that the obligation to wear a face mask does not apply to activities in private or when visiting establishments such as bars and restaurants while sitting at a table but does apply for movement within the premises. It also applies to all public transport and will likely be the case until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Leisure activities

Whether you’re going to a shopping centre, restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels, or cultural institutions such as museums or the cinema, a minimum distance of 1.5 metres must continue to be observed. It must be ensured that organisational measures are taken that are necessary to avoid crowding. When it is not possible to maintain this safety distance, appropriate hygiene measures must be observed to prevent the risks of contagion and the capacity of smaller spaces will be limited. There will also be controls regarding cleaning, making sure that spaces are regularly disinfected.

Travelling

What will travelling on planes and trains look like in Spain’s new normality? Regulations have been detailed for flights and train journeys in the most recent Official Gazette (BOE), stating that operators will have to adjust supply levels to the evolution of the recovery of demand, in order to guarantee the adequate provision of services. The relevant health measures must be taken into account and crowds.

Plans have also been outlined that transport operators that work with allocated seats will have to keep lists of names in which passengers must register. In this way, if someone is found to have the virus, then those that have potentially been in contact with the infection should be found more quickly. Airlines or railway companies must keep these lists for at least four weeks. It is thought that regulations regarding leaving empty seats between passengers could be introduced but airlines and train companies are not in favour these measures.

Tourism

The Spanish government has stated that foreign tourists will be welcome in the country this summer, with self-isolation measures being lifted for those travelling from abroad from 21st June, a date which was originally set for 1st July. Tourism is vital for the Spanish economy and hotels and tourist accommodation have been allowed to open in some regions since 11th May. Beaches in some areas were able to reopen on 8th June as part of phase 3 of Spain’s de-escalation plan, while others are preparing for opening this month, with most of the municipalities with beaches working on solutions to avoid large gatherings on beaches this summer. Note that the same health and safety measures mentioned will be in place and must be adhered to by residents and tourists.

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