Pedro Sánchez revealed on Tuesday afternoon his de-escalation plan for the state of alarm and lockdown that has gripped Spain due to COVID-19 for almost seven weeks. He wants de-escalation to be asymmetric, gradual and flexible. The plan has been dubbed “the transition towards a new normal.” This plan, made with the help of experts and scientists and approved by the Council of Ministers, covers up to four phases of deconfinement. It does not set dates for each stage, which will be subject to the development of markers in each province. The plan begins on May 4th and the time frame is two months, until the end of June. The good news is this Saturday you can enjoy sports and go for a walk.
There will be four phases with four distinct opening grades: Stages 0, 1, 2, and 3. A series of markers will allow the switch from one phase to the next in each territory. The intention is to evaluate the situation every two weeks and make the decision in a coordinated way between the state and the autonomies. Each phase will last for at least two weeks. This way, the transition will last for at least six weeks. The maximum limit is eight weeks, until the end of June.
The only exact date set: On May 4th all the territories will enter phase 0, except Formentera, La Gomera and La Graciosa, which are going to be directly in Phase 1. And on May 11th all territories that meet the requirements will pass to Phase 1.
The territorial unit will be the province and n the case of the Balearics, The Canaries, etc, the island. Communities may raise exceptions and Minister Salvador Illa must validate them. Until the deconfinement is complete, movement between the provinces will not be allowed, except in exceptional cases, collected under the alarm’s decree. Nor is it permitted to travel to second homes if they are in other provinces.
In phase 0, or the preparatory phase, “small gaps in economic activity will be opened”. The Spanish president has given some examples, such as the opening of premises such as takeaway restaurants but with no consumption on the premises. These premises must have a counter or screen, and when it is not possible, the individual protection must be guaranteed to the utmost. A timetable for individual attention will be established for people over 65 years old.
Individual training for athletes and federated professionals will also be permitted, as well as basic training of professional leagues and non-contact sports activity. Children, adults, and guests can go for walks. The exercise must be done individually and guaranteeing safety. It is recommended to use a mask outside the house, and on public transport.
Initial phase: reopening of terraces
Phase 1, or initial phase, will allow the “widespread” opening of small businesses, but not large stores. The capacity limit will be 30%. Terraces may reopen, but again only to serve 30% of their usual capacity. Where security distances cannot be guaranteed, only one customer will be allowed to enter at a time.
In the case of the restaurants, the opening of the terraces will be enabled, without exceeding the capacity of 30%. The city council can extend the space available for these terraces, provided that the proportion of 30% of tables/surface is respected. It will also allow the opening of hotels, excluding public areas and certain restrictions that will be specified.
In the cultural field, libraries will open. Cultural shows of less than 30 people will be permitted in closed places with one-third of the capacity allowed in at any one time. Outdoors, the limitation will be 200 people, as long as they are seated. You can visit museums, also with a third of capacity crowd control will be maintained.
At this stage, “social contact in small groups for non-vulnerable people or with previous pathologies” is permitted. Sources from the Spanish government point out that these meetings may take place at home or in permitted establishments. Passenger limitations for private vehicles will continue, except for people who live together.
After Phase 1, the “limited number of family members, with physical distance and security protocols,” will also be permitted. Religious worship places will open, but with a limitation of one-third of the normal capacity.
Intermediate stage: Second homes and weddings
In phase 2, or the intermediate phase, restaurants may open their interior spaces, with one-third of capacity and service exclusively on tables or as takeaways. “Social contact is allowed in larger groups for non-vulnerable people or with immunity.” From this period, you can visit relatives with disabilities in their homes, but not in residences for the elderly. Weddings can also be held “for a limited number of attendees.”
Recreational areas and parks will be open to the public, but the “relaxing in common areas or recreational areas” will be prohibited. Shops will have a limited capacity of 40%. A schedule of preferred attention will continue for those over 65 years of age.
Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and exhibition halls will reopen with a limitation of one-third of the regular seating and available. Cultural events in closed spaces must be attended by less than 50 people or less than a third of capacity. Outdoors, the limitation is 400 people provided they are seated. Places of worship will have a limitation of 50%.
While the school year will resume in September, there will be some exceptions in this stage: support activities available for children aged six and under where both parents work and for also for the Selectivitat, the university admission exams.
Until the end of this phase, telework is preferential. During this period you can travel to second homes “as long as they are in the same province.”
Advanced stage: Beaches and discos
Finally, in Phase 3, or the advanced phase, “the general mobility will be more flexible”, in the words of Sánchez, while maintaining the recommendation of the use of masks, also in public transport. In the commercial arena, the capacity will be extended to 50% but a minimum distance of two meters must be maintained. Restaurant limits will be extended to 50%, both inside and on the terraces, but distance must be maintained between clients. Standing customers, will be allowed, but with a minimum distance of one and a half meters between people at the bar. In this phase discotheques and music bars, will open, but with a maximum capacity of one third.
In this phase the opening of beaches is also contemplated, with local administrations involved to ensure safety.
Two week phases
Each phase will last for at least two weeks. Some provinces will arrive at the “new normality” before others. Sánchez has made it clear that the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, will be in charge of delivering coherent general guidelines. The plans are asymmetric, so will not be “uniform” for all territories. Thus, provinces will be evaluated individually if they meet the criteria for phase progress or even phase reversal. He also made it explicit that the markers will be “objective and public”.
Sánchez has not resolved some doubts, for example when a relative or a friend visit another’s house.
To evaluate the situation of each province, a series of markers will be considered established by the experts and scientists who advise the Spanish government. Firstly, “the strategic capacities of the healthcare system”, such as primary care and the number of UCI bed beds. Secondly, “the diagnosis and identification of the specific situation of the pandemic” in each area. Thirdly, “the implementation of collective protection measures in shops, transport, work centres, and any other public spaces”. Finally, “data on mobility and socio-economics.”
The measures proposed in the field of health include the configuration of specific centres for suspects of coronavirus, separate circuits for the in-person care of people with symptoms or the reinforcement of home isolation and care.