PRESIDENT PEDRO SÁNCHEZ introduced the masterplan for Spain´s return to a “new normal” last night, unveiling a flexible strategy to lift one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns and proposing the reintroduction of freedom of movement and the opening of businesses through four different phases.
Under the de-escalation plan, dubbed “the Transition Towards a New Normal”, the Spanish nation will enter an initial phase this weekend, with future phases implemented across individual provinces.
Pedro Sánchez outlined the de-escalation plan with each phase expected to last about two weeks. He said the process would take a minimum of six weeks, and hopefully no more than eight.
“Same rules, different speeds” explained the President. “The virus does not distinguish between administrative boundaries”, so each province will relax restrictions at a different pace, depending on the severity of its outbreak.
Provinces will progress to less restrictive phases based on their infection rates, local hospital capacity and readiness, regional mobility data, and how well social distancing measures were being observed and implemented.
Local authorities are responsible for monitoring the conditions in their regions, but the national Health Ministry will have the final say on whether or not a province moves forward.
De-escalation: Spain returning to the “New Normal”
The country has already taken an early step, allowing workers in manufacturing, construction and some services to return to work from 13 April.
This past Sunday, 6.3 million Spanish children under the age of 14 were finally permitted to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks – for one hour a day, between 09:00 and 21:00.
And from this Saturday 2nd May all adults will be able to go outside for a walk or to take part in individual exercise.
Phase Zero: small steps, takeaway food and hairdressers
The Spanish nation will enter the first phase, this coming Monday 4th May.
From Monday hairdressers will be able to open their doors after 44 days of enforced closure, but strictly for customers with pre-booked appointments.
Restaurants and cafeterias will be permitted to open to provide a takeaway service only, with food being consumed off the premises.
Phase One: reopening shops, bars, and restaurants
Scheduled to start on Monday 11th May, phase one will allow healthy people with no underlying medical conditions to socialise together in small groups, while family members will be permitted to attend funerals. Places of religious worship will reopen during this phase.
Small businesses and shops may reopen, but excluding large shopping centres or malls such as Zenia Boulevard. Hotels will reopen but inside common areas such as public lounges will remain prohibited.
Bars and restaurants can open their terraces and outside spaces limited to 30% of the licenced capacity. Establishments may apply to their local Town Hall to increase the size of the terrace, for instance, by occupying part of the street-scene such as an adjacent path or roadside parking area.
Phase Two: more freedoms and moving toward the “new normal”
Possibly as early as Monday 25th May, bars and restaurants may provide table service for seated patrons inside the premises, with a limitation of one-third of the licenced capacity.
Indoor public events with less than 50 people and open-air events with a maximum of 400 attendees will be permitted.
Museums, public exhibitions, and cinemas and theatres that offer seat reservations may open but will be limited to one-third of their licenced capacity.
Phase Three: beaches, nightclubs, and the last steps
Capacity limitations in bars and restaurants will be increased to 50% and people will be allowed to stand in saloon or bar areas. Discos and nightclubs will be able to reopen.
The beaches will be reopened in time for the summer season either at the start or end of phase three, with beachgoers required to maintain social distancing rules.
According to El Mundo, phase three could begin during the week of Monday 8th June, meaning that Spain, or at least selected provinces within the country, might potentially return to the “new normal” two weeks later around Monday 22nd June, with the termination of all special safety measures.
Total freedom of movement won´t be restored until phase three is complete, meaning people won´t be free to travel outside of their residential province until at least Monday 22nd June.
Both Ryanair and Jet2 have confirmed that they will be recommencing their scheduled flight programmes from Wednesday 17th June, although at this time neither company have revealed their complete schedule.
President Sanchez told Spaniards, “We are starting to glimpse an outcome that will be a reward for the huge collective effort made over the past weeks”. But he warned that “the virus is still lurking”.
“It’s up to the people now, we are embarking on a journey without a precise route map. What we’ve accomplished is enormous, but it could all be lost if we don’t look after each other”.
Editorial note: The coronavirus pandemic is a very fast-moving situation and whilst the content and data were checked for accuracy at the time of publication (Wednesday 29th April 2020 at 9:30 am), the political direction can change at any time, and the data is evolving constantly. For the latest information please refer to our Facebook page, join our Facebook community group.