In a televised speech to the nation, Pedro Sanchez unveiled new measures on Saturday that effectively banned people from leaving home except to go to work or buy essential supplies, in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the restrictions on movement following a huge spike in the number of cases with over 5,700 people infected and 200 dead in this nation of some 46 million people.
Everyone in Spain, regardless of the region, will be expected to stay within their homes and police will be given the powers to stop and question people found outside and in vehicles using public roads.
That includes those in the Balearic Islands. the Canary Islands and Spain’s north African enclaves as well as across mainland Spain.
Public transport will not be shut down entirely, although it will be reduced by fifty per cent, presumably because it still provides the only way to move around for key workers.
People will only be allowed on the streets and to circulate in private cars under the following circumstances:
To buy essentials from supermarkets or pharmacies
Everything will close except for food shops and pharmacies so you will be allowed to leave the house only to visit those establishments to buy essentials. Strict measures will be in place at shops to prevent crowding and ensure that consumers and employees remain at least one metre apart from each other to reduce the risk of contagion.
To go to work
Companies have been told to order their employees to work from home when possible but there are obviously some jobs which are essential, such as those who work in healthcare or care for the elderly or if you are employed in one of those places which are needed to be kept open, such as public transport, supermarkets or pharmacies.
To return to your primary place of residence
If for some reason you are not at your home when the state of alert officially begins, you won’t have to stay where you are but will be allowed to travel back to your primary residence.
To visit needy relatives or vulnerable people
If you are responsible for someone who may live alone and need help, either because they are elderly, disabled or considered vulnerable in some way, you will be allowed to visit them and take them supplies.
To visit the doctor or hospital
Seeking medical treatment is a valid reason to leave the house but phone ahead to check the appointment is still happening as non-essential treatment at hospitals has in most cases been postponed. Do not leave the house to go to the hospital if you have symptoms of the coronavirus but stay home in quarantine and if the symptoms become severe then contact your regional hotline.
To visit financial institutions
We are assuming this is to visit a cash point and take out the money because high street banks won’t be opening their doors and operating as normal.
Due to force majeure or need and to carry out an unspecified activity that can be justified as a valid reason
No further information has yet been given as to what beyond those activities above might be considered “a force majeure” or “valid reason”.
Can I socialize with my friends?
Um no, the whole point is that people need to stay home and socially distance to try and slow down spread of COVID-19.
All bars, restaurants, cultural spaces have been shut down across Spain and you’ll be stopped if you are spotted sitting in a park chatting with friends. The message is very clearly “Stay home and stay isolated”.
How long will this last?
The state of alert will be in place for 15 days but could be extended with the permission of Spain’s parliament.
Should I be stockpiling?
In areas where supermarkets have been overwhelmed with people and have seen shelves emptied as panic buying set in, such as Madrid, police have been called in to limit numbers entering the supermarket and to prevent bulk buying of essential goods.
Authorities insist there is no need to stockpile beyond buying enough to last the household for a week at a time because the supplies are not threatened.
Police stops and army on standby
It also mentions all of Spain’s police forces will have the power to stop vehicles on public roads to check their purpose of being there and adds that drivers will be able to refuel at service stations.
The Decree adds that the army may be drafted in if deemed necessary.
If I am on holiday in Spain can I fly home?
The state of alert does not mean that Spain’s borders will automatically be closed but expect a host of cancellations from airlines as the number of passengers drastically drops.
Holiday companies such as Jet2 have cancelled all holidays to Spain from Saturday but if you are already in Spain on holiday expect provisions to be made for your return. You will need to contact your airline or holiday company and find out what arrangements will be made.
Can I go for a walk in the park?
The short answer is no. Children’s playgrounds have been cordoned off and people are being told not to go outside to parks.
But those with dogs are to be allowed to walk them if they maintain basic social distancing rules such as maintaining a safe distance between other dog walkers
Published The Local 15 March 2020