Coronavirus: what you can and can't do during lockdown in Spain

The state of alarm was implemented by the government on Saturday in order to immediately lock down the country, limiting the movement of citizens across Spain

Coronavirus cases in Spain continue to rise / Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Coronavirus cases in Spain continue to rise / Photo by CDC on Unsplash
16 March 2020, Emma Donaldson

Coronavirus cases in Spain are still on the rise. The Spanish Government as a consequence has adopted a decree law detailing the measures of the state of alarm ("estado de alarma") that was implemented in Spain on Saturday in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. After last week’s closure of schools and universities, as well as the subsequent measures taken to close libraries, theatres and leisure centres, the country is now experiencing a full lockdown where citizens have been told not to leave their house unless absolutely necessary. 

In view of these restrictions imposed on citizens and amidst sometimes confusing media reports, questions may arise as to what you can and cannot do under these circumstances. Freedom of movement has been restricted and the government has established 8 clear justifications for leaving your home. Let’s have a look at what they are, along with some other frequently asked questions.

Clear justifications for leaving home 

  • The purchase of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities
  • Attendance at health centres
  • Travel to places of work (if working from home is not a viable option)
  • Return to places of habitual residence
  • Assistance and care for the elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or especially vulnerable people
  • To go to financial entities (e.g. banks)
  • Due to force majeure or situations of necessity
  • Any other activity of a justified comparable nature

I'm on holidays. What about my flight?

Tourists who are currently in Spain may return to their home country. Hotels are currently closed, however, airports and borders remain open. At the same time, only those who can show an unavoidable and legitimate reason for doing so, will be allowed to enter Spain.

Can I use my car?

The use of vehicles is permitted for the activities mentioned above and in order to go to petrol stations but any outing which is merely for “leisure” purposes is expressly prohibited

Are shops open?

All businesses that carry out direct public-facing activity are closed, apart from those distributing foodstuffs and essential items (such as supermarkets and pharmacies). All cafés and restaurants are therefore closed, however they will still be able to deliver food to people’s homes.

Are food supplies guaranteed?

The authorities guarantee the production, storage, transport and distribution of foodstuffs to consumers. Food distribution is considered an essential service and to guarantee these supplies, the government has powers to mobilise the state security forces and the army.

Can I take the kids to the park?

It is highly recommended that children remain at home and in cities such as Madrid, play parks have been closed and security forces urge passers-by to leave these recreational areas and go to their homes. In an update to the state of alarm regulations, as of 26th April, children have been allowed to go out for one hour per day and accompanied by one parent or guardian from the same household. Play parks remain out of bounds but walks are permitted. 

Can I walk my dog?

Yes, taking your dog for a quick walk is allowed, as long as you maintain your distance from others and respect the safety and protection measures. Taking pets out is one of the exceptions to the restriction on the use of public space, but, as always, the government urges citizens to exercise "common sense" and that pets should be walked individually and not just used as an excuse to leave the house. 

Is public transport still running?

Yes, for now, public transport services that are considered a public service and that depend on the Autonomous Communities are still in full working order. The government and local authorities reserve the right to "establish a percentage reduction in the services, as well as other specific conditions of provision, if the health situation so requires".

Are there fines for breaking these rules?

Failure to comply with or resistance to the orders of the competent authorities in the state of alert can lead to penalties of up to four years in prison and a fine of 600 to 30,000 euros. In Spain’s capital, Madrid, almost 200 fines were handed out on the first day of these measures and 1 arrest was made. 

Remember, to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus, follow the advice given by the authorities and if you must go out, take the necessary precautions: keep your distance from others and wash your hands freuqently with soap and water. If you are experiencing a high temperature, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of a respiratory illness, ring the emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

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