Coronavirus: what you can and can't do in Spain's new state of alarm

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash
Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash
27 October 2020, Emma Donaldson

Spain is once again in a state of alarm. The Government's decision taken on Sunday 25th October 2020 at an extraordinary meeting of parliament will reinforce coronavirus restrictions at national level, legally protecting the measures that the country's autonomous regions were already taking in terms of mobility or limitations on social gatherings, for example.

Another "estado de alarma" declared in Spain comes with many questions regarding what this means for those living throughout Spain or those planning to travel to the country in 2020. Let's have a look at some of the main questions being asked and their answers

How long will the state of alarm last?

In line with the Spanish Constitution, the state of alarm can only be declared for 15 days. However, Spain's President, Pedro Sánchez has stated that the government plans to extend it until 9th May 2021. This, however, is pending approval from the rest of Spain's political parties, something which may prove a tough task meaning the exact length of this new state of alarm is subject to change. 

What is the difference between this new state of alarm and the one that began in March?

During the coronavirus lockdown in Spain in March, the main purpose of the state of alarm was used to confine residents at home, meaning that they couldn't leave unless they had a justified reason (going to work, to the supermarket, doctor or hospital, amongst other justified activities), as well as the fact that bars, cafés, restaurants and shops were also closed. This new state of alarm is different in many ways and the government has emphasised that, for now, these strict measures will not be repeated.

Spain's new state of alarm, decreed on 25th October 2020, means that regional governments in Spain's Autonomous Communities will be in charge of implementing whatever coronavirus restrictions they see fit: this includes being able to limit freedom of movement without having to turn to the courts for prior authorisation.

The decree approved by the Government does have one restriction that applies to the whole country and that is a nighttime curfew

What do Spain's curfew measures involve?

First of all, the curfew measures do not apply to the Canary Islands. Across the rest of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, this nighttime curfew will limit all nighttime movement, apart from journeys for justified motives such as going to work, seeking medical attention or journeys to take care of dependent family members. The government stated that this curfew should be between 11pm and 6am, however this time can be adjusted by one hour in either direction at the discretion of each region. 

Are there limits on meeting up with friends and family?

Social meetings across Spain are limited to a maximum of 6 people, except in the case of more than 6 people from the same household. These measures apply in both private and public settings. 

Are the measures different in each region? 

As mentioned, this new state of alarm gives Spain's regions more power to introduce their own rules and restrictions in the fight against COVID-19, meaning that restrictions will vary from region to region. In Madrid, for example, the regional goverment has introduced neighbourhood confinements where the restrictions are based on the number of coronavirus cases in basic health zones; while in Catalonia, bars, cafes, and restaurants are open for takeaway only and a weekend lockdown has been introduced.

Is it likely that there will be lockdowns in certain regions or municipalities?

This, once again, is down to each of Spain's regional governments. If necessary, they will be able to confine their entire region and restrict movement in and out of the area, or confine certain neighbourhoods, like in Madrid. 

Can I travel to Spain from abroad at the moment?

Currently there are no specific restrictions to stop tourists or those travelling from abroad from entering Spain, however, many governments across Europe strongly advise against travel to Spain. Keep in mind that if you do travel to Spain, you must obey all the coronavirus restrictions in place in the area you visit, and that the rules may change during your stay. 

On the other hand, it is worth pointing out that the situation in the Canary Islands is a little different and, for the moment, the rules are more relaxed with less coronavirus cases on the islands. The Canary Islands have returned to the travel corridors list in the UK and is the only region exempt from Spain's new curfew restrictions. This also means that UK travellers returning from the Canary Islands no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days.

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