Living with covid: Canarian Government publishes new normal measures for when estado de alarma ends on Sunday

The Canaries are under regional restrictions defined by “levels”: Tenerife is in level 2, and the principal rules in place are: 

  • Curfew of 11pm to 6am, and although travel around the island is not banned, the public is asked to restrict movement as much as possible 
  • face masks must be worn by everyone of 6 years of age and above at all times and places outside the home regardless of distancing, though exemptions exist for medical conditions (medical proof required – in Spanish because it will be Policía Local who’ll stop and fine you), working or exercising which makes wearing a mask impossible but mask must be carried to put on as soon as exempt activity stops. They can be removed at the moment of eating or drinking, and for exercise or swimming, and for rest periods in between if not moving and with physical distancing guaranteed. Fabric masks are legal but if attending a hospital or doctor’s surgery, masks must be of the hygenic or surgical type from a chemist or sanitary provisions supplier (see HERE)
  • social groups limited to six, can be exceeded for those living together
  • physical distancing of 1.5m wherever possible   
  • private cars can be occupied to a maximum allowed to be in a social group depending on the level. Masks must be worn if the occupants are from different households, and windows open or aircon switched on but with air drawn from outside, not recirculated interior air
  • time and capacity restrictions, distancing & hygiene rules apply in shops and offices including Government departments, bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums, churches, beaches, markets, gyms, casinos, etc. Prior appointments/pre-booking may be required 
  • catering establishments close by 11pm, limited capacity – 75% on terrace, 50% inside, six per table outside, four per table inside, home delivery to midnight; if you eat indoors in an establishment you will be required to provide your details for track and trace purposes 
  • smoking banned outside bars, restaurants, etc., and in any outdoor public spaces unless smoker is alone, stationary, and with 2m cordon (smoking already banned by Spain in enclosed public spaces and outside schools, hospitals, etc)
  • late night bars, nightclubs & discos closed, and crowd events banned
  • sports and physical exercise in the open air can be carried out individually or up to a maximum of six in a group with 2m physical distancing

To enter Tenerife: 

  • Spain has imposed various border restrictions for those trying to enter the country, particularly from outside the EU. Check your means and route of arrival are permitted: most countries will have their own official Governmental websites for advice about travel to various countries, for exmple HERE is the UK’s FCDO for travel advice concerning Spain.
  • all visitors must have previously completed a passenger location form (digital or paper, English or Spanish – see HERE) with their personal details including where they will be staying in Spain (national legislation)
  • all visitors to Spain from a high risk country, regardless of where they’re staying, must have a PCR, TMA or LAMP test before they fly (see HERE) (national legislation). 
  • all visitors to the Canaries from any other region of Spain must bring a negative test
  • in addition, anyone including residents checking into any regulated tourist accommodation in the Canaries – hotels, apartment complexes with receptions, rural hotels etc – must present a certificate showing a negative test result – this can be an antigen test but if arriving from outside the Canaries with a PCR test result evidently this can also be used for checking into the accommodation provided it is still no more than 72 hours old. Canarian residents can sign a formal declaration instead if they haven’t left the islands for at least a fortnight prior to checking into a hotel. Those checking into regulated tourist accommodation will also be required to download the track and trace RADAR app (see HERE) (Canarian legislation)
  • anyone travelling within the Canaries to or from islands in level 3 or above needs an antigen (or PCA/LAMP/TMA/NAAT) test if not travelling for justifiable reasons (work, legal/health matters, caring for relative etc)

Updated 7 May: The new measures have been published today in the BOC HERE. They will be in force from the minute the estado de alarma ends at 00.00h Sunday 9 May until, at least in the first instance, 24.00h, 31 July. These new restrictions and limits on fundamental rights need judicial ratification since they no longer have the legal framework provided by the estado de alarma. As such, they will be passed to the Courts for confirmation but will be in force from 00.00h this Sunday even if the Courts haven’t ratified them by then. If the measures were to be refused legal validity they would be invalidated and guidance would be provided as to what might be legally permissible for the Government to impose, but really, it is unlikely that the Courts will refuse to support measures that are part of emergency public health procedures.  

Updated 6 May: And finally we know what the new normal looks like, at least for the time being. The Canaries have been exempt from Spain’s estado de alarma but it has nonetheless been in place, providing the legal framework for the measures taken in the Canaries, such as the curfew, as it did elsewhere in Spain. As of Sunday 9 May, however, the state of emergency that took so much political negotiating to achieve comes to an end along with the measures that will replace it, but as Clio and I have discussed in the podcast, things weren’t expected to look all that different … and they won’t. And so, for the time being, in the Canaries, the levels will be maintained along with the existing measures in all islands, including the curfew. Also maintained will be ports and airports controls. These measures will be in place until 13 May in the first instance, and the full details will be published tomorrow in the BOC.

Updated 4 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has confirmed that Tenerife will go down to Level 2 from today, with a review next Tuesday, 11 May, by which time of course we will be far clearer about the framework of measures that will replace the national estado de alarma that ends this coming Sunday, 9 May. Regional Health Secretary Blas Trujillo said that the average number of cases being recorded in Tenerife allows this change now, with a drop from 97 between 14 and 27 April to 75 in the last week. Trujillo said that Tenerife remained at medium risk, the highest of all the islands, but case tracing is effective, and the general trend is downwards though ICU capacity remains a clear concern. With these changes, Tenerife’s curfew remains at 11pm but groups of 6 can meet, and the hospitality industry will be pleased because it means they can reopen their interiors to customers though with reduced capacity and table occupancy inside compared to their external terraces.

Green circle Fuerteventura, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)

Updated 3 May: As we wait for tomorrow’s announcement by Sanidad (Canarias) about Tenerife’s tier, with everyone hoping for the level to be reduced from 3 to 2, Adeje Ayuntamiento has announced that its Policía Local, reinforced by Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil officers, had to break up two illegal parties in the municipio over the weekend. Both parties, one on Diego Hernández beach and the other in an empty water reservoir along the Camino de la Virgin, involved over 100 people who were not observing Covid restrictions; one had also exceeded the curfew when it was broken up. 

Adeje’s Security councillor Mercedes Vargas Delgado has reiterated her call for the people of Adeje to make “an extra effort to stick to the rules.  We have had a complicated few months but bit by bit things are improving and it would be tragic to see people get ill and lose their lives as a result of this kind of behaviour”. The councillor reminded people that in a tourist borough and area there is a need for extra security and personnel, with situations difficult to police with elevated numbers despite a good working relationship between the local and national police forces.

As I’ve said myself several times over the last year, Policía Local numbers are often barely sufficient for the purpose, and in this type of situation they’re also expected to police the social behaviour of, inevitably, their own friends and families. Naturally, therefore, they need reinforcement, and the council itself stresses the on-going need for increased National Police and Guardia Civil numbers in the south of the island.

Updated 29 April: Following this week’s Cabinet, Tenerife remains the only island in Level 3 as Gran Canaria is reduced to Level 2 and Fuerteventura to Level 1. The Government considers that although Tenerife’s figures are beginning to show an improvement, that isn’t sufficient to warrant relaxing our restrictions when Adeje and Arona together far outweigh any other area’s sanctions for violations of safety measures. The Government therefore feels it’s “more prudent” to wait until the reduction is consolidated. While Tenerife’s level will be reviewed next Tuesday 4 May, nationally all eyes are on 9 May when the estado de alarma is lifted. Although not currently in effect in the Canaries, the measures that will replace it will be decided by an Interterritorial Health Council comprising the presidents of the regions to be convened in the near future.

Green circle Fuerteventura, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife (level 3)

Updated 22 April: This week’s levels of alert see a change for El Hierro which worsens from level 1 to level 2. Tenerife remains at level 3 until the next review next Thursday. There are some changes to the criteria for level 3, notably that the curfew now starts at 11pm, and that travel restrictions between the islands are back to Easter format, where you just need a negative test (edit 23 April: BOC HERE).

Green circle La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria (level 3)

Updated 15 April: Despite loud calls from police and some unions for Tenerife to be taken up to Level 4, the Canarian Government has announced that we are to remain in level 3. The only island whose level has changed is Fuerteventura, which has joined Lanzarote and La Graciosa in level 2. Gran Canaria too remains in level 3, and La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro in Level 1. The Government admitted that Tenerife, and Gran Canaria for that matter, have worrying figures and that they can’t be allowed to keep going up much longer … a clear warning that if things don’t change we are staring level 4 in the face.

Green circle El Hierro, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Fuerteventura, Lanzarote/La Graciosa (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria (level 3)

Updated 6pm, 8/4: The Canarian Government has announced this evening that Tenerife remains in Level 3 until the next revision on 15 April.

Updated 8 April: Following an outcry over the Spanish Government’s announcement of 30 March that masks were required on the beach and around swimming pools, the Spanish Government has resolved the confusion. As I said on the 31st, the Canarian Government itself said that it had its own legislation allowing an exemption for beaches, but some local police were prepared to enforce the national law. Spain has now confirmed, however, that masks can be removed while swimming in the sea or pools, as well as in rest periods before or after swimming provided physical distancing can be maintained. Masks must be put on when moving around resting places, changing rooms, or in the area of the water. 

Updated 6 April: A reminder from Sanidad about the 6Ms … Mascarilla (mask – wear one), Manos (hands – wash them), Metros (distance – keep it), Máxima ventilación (maximise ventilation – be outdoors or open windows to create through draught), Minimizar contactos (minimise contacts – group numbers are a limit not a goal), Me quedo en casa si tengo síntomas (stay home if you have symptoms … some think it’s best to stay home whenever you can, symptoms or no). 

Updated 4 April: There’s a pretty good chance, it seems to me, of case numbers rising substantially enough to warrant Tenerife, at least, going to Level 4 after the Easter break. I phrase it like that because it does seem to be what people want given that they simply will not stop behaving in ways that violate any number of health emergency measures. Anyway, as police throughout Tenerife have had to break up various parties, often in out of the way fincas, in Adeje at least the violation was anything but secret. Police have condemned a public boxing bout on a beach in the municipio watched by a group of people who were maskless, right next to each other … a video of the fight has been posted several times on social media, as below from Sur de Tenerife. 

The Ayuntamiento has reminded the public that Tenerife is in Level 3 with a very high number of cases in Adeje municipio specifically, and called for public responsibility even though it’s a special time of year. I don’t normally criticize the authorities without very good reason because in a situation like this pandemic it can undermine their efforts but maybe councils could just once and for all fully support their municipal forces and train or provision them adequately, and ensure they can get the backup they need from the Nationals and Guardia Civil to police such incidents properly. No amount of posturing or carefully worded statements about taking care of others, deploring violent sports, or the borough’s tourist image is going to have any effect if the authorities don’t do anything more. They need to act, not just pay lip service to their concerns about Intensive Care Unit occupancy. Virtue signalling is not and cannot be the answer.

I’ve said before that I don’t actually think it should be the Policía Local’s job to police these sorts of issues. Often they are employed in their own locality where they have friends and family who remain in that locality, and who own and use shops, bars, beaches, etc. They are being expected to police their own families in some cases, and that is a recipe for disaster. The councils might not be able to provision their police forces adequately, or employ sufficient numbers with the municipal resources that they have, or enforce the enforcement of rules when police might be compromised through family or other ties, but they have a voice. Why is the voice of all the councils not combined to call for adequate policing external from their own boroughs? Why are they not calling for the official deployment of the Policía Canaria – it took them long enough to get a regional police force, why not use it for this? Or why not speak with one voice to the Internal Ministry and/or the Ministry of Defence to police through Policía Nacional or Guardia Civil with the Policía Local providing support functions where their loyalties are not challenged? Or something else, whatever, but this is not currently working!  

Updated 31 March: There is confusion over one aspect of the New Normal law, that of wearing masks on the beach and around swimming pools. The situation is currently that the national Government’s legislation requires masks in all public spaces, and that the Canarian Government notes that the rules are an extension of those in place a year ago and are covered by Canarian legislation allowing an exemption for beaches. Some local police are preparing to police according to the spirit of the Canarian Government’s interpretation of the old regional law while others are planning to enforce according to the letter of the new national one. According to the former, masks can be removed while sunbathing or bathing provided the 2m distance can be observed, though they should be worn while moving about a beach or pool area; according to the latter, however, a beach or swimming pool area is an open air space and masks are required at all times.

Updated 30 March: The Spanish Government has published its New Normal legislation in the BOE today HERE. The law, which will be in place from tomorrow, sets in place the regulations we will have to live with for the foreseeable future, including face masks virtually everywhere for all over six years of age. The rule has caused no end of controversy but it is quite clear that face masks will remain required in all public spaces, including streets, plazas, even beaches, … specifically “la vía pública, en espacios al aire libre y en cualquier espacio cerrado de uso público o que se encuentre abierto al público.” – public roads, open-air spaces, and any closed spaces for public use. They will also be required on all public transport and shared private transport where the occupants don’t live together. There will be the usual exemptions for those who have breathing or other physical or psychological conditions, and these will need proof by official (and Spanish) medical notification. Exercise will be another reason to leave the mask off or doing work where it’s just not possible but as before a mask must be available to put on immediately the activity stops.

Updated 20 March: The measures have been published today in the BOC. The new general measures are HERE, and the specific Easter measures HERE. The Easter measures will be in force from 00.00h 26 March to 24.00h 9 April.

Updated 19 March: People are confused by the new level 3 measures because they seem to be so similar to the reinforced level 2 that we’ve been under, and now there are new Easter measures too. I’ve updated the list in bold above from the Government’s announcements so that it’s correct as of Sunday night when level 3 comes into force at midnight, and added in the Easter measures that will be in place from 26 March to 9 April inclusive. All this needs confirmation from the published measures when they appear in the BOC, probably tomorrow.

The biggest change we will notice, I imagine, is that consumption inside bars and restaurants won’t be possible in level 3: places will be able to remain open until midnight for home takeout deliveries though they’ll have to close to the public at 10pm for curfew. In addition, groups will be limited to four in public spaces but get-togethers in people’s homes will not be possible: private spaces will be restricted just to those living together. Level 3 will also close off Tenerife with entry and departure only for permitted reasons (the ones we’re always used to, eg returning home, work, medical, legal, banks … ). We have all these measures to 9 April.

Updated 18 March: The updated levels that will apply from 00.00h Monday 22 March:

Green circle El Hierro, La Gomera & La Palma (level 1)
Orange circle Lanzarote (level 2)
Red circle Tenerife, Gran Canaria & Fuerteventura (level 3)

The measures for the levels are to be reinforced since this period is now coming up to Easter, and we’ll see in the BOC announcement, probably tomorrow or Saturday, what this means for Tenerife over coming weeks. In terms specifically of Easter restrictions, said to be in place from Friday 26 March to Friday 9 April, there is likely to be a restriction on groups of non-cohabitants meeting in private homes though they can meet in groups of four from different households in public spaces and establishments.

This post is split from the earlier one which had become too unwieldy. That’s now archived HERE.