The 45,000 residents of the four Spanish islands that are leading the way towards the so called “new normality” entered Phase 2 of Spain’s coronavirus de-escalation plan this Monday. People living on the Balearic island of Formentera, on the Canary Islands of La Graciosa, La Gomera and El Hierro, are now able to take walks or exercise outside at nearly any time of the day.
The Madrid region, Barcelona and a large part of Castilla y León are still in Phase 0, but from Monday – as part of the ease baptized as Phase 0.5 – stores and other businesses with premises measuring under 400 square meters will be able to open without customers needing to make an appointment beforehand, as was necessary until then. Capacity will, however, be limited to 30%.
The rest of Spain moved to Phase 1 this Monday.
So in the major part of Spain citizens now can move around their province or island. All members of a family who live together can travel in one vehicle. People can travel to, and stay in, second residences if they are in the same province. Bars and restaurants are permitted to open their street cafés, limiting capacity to 50% and prioritizing single-use objects. Hotels and other tourist accommodation can reopen all of their rooms, but common areas cannot be used. Both hunting and sports fishing can restart.
With a measure, effective from May 16, Spain has extended restrictions on non-essential travel for people coming into Spanish territory until June 15. Besides the 14-day self-quarantine for international travellers, non-essential travel to Spain will be heavily restricted. As a rule, Spanish authorities will only let in Spanish citizens, permanent residents of Spain, and regular residents of the Schengen area (30 countries that include the EU members, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Andorra) who are in transit to their place of residence.
Exceptions are also made for cross-border workers, healthcare professionals and caregivers on their way to work, diplomats and individuals who can prove an essential reason to travel, including for humanitarian reasons.
Obviously, these travel restrictions have been met with opposition from the tourism industry, which is already reeling from the effects of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Airlines are refusing to leave seats unfilled because it is not profitable, while the hotel industry has complained about the 14-day quarantine. One of the ideas under consideration is to establish air corridors between countries with a similar risk of contagion, so citizens can travel within that space without restrictions. This would at least eliminate the self-quarantine requirement.