Living with covid: last update as Supreme Court ties Canarian Government’s hands

Spain’s response to the covid pandemic is being carried out through regional health departments within the national health policy framework. The Canaries are put in levels of alert depending on figures assessed by the Government frequently and regularly: the levels are 1 to 4 with 4 being the maximum. Full information on restrictions, rules, figures etc is HERE.

29 July: Today is the anniversary of my arrival in Tenerife. It therefore seems a reasonable day to say that this will be the last Living with Covid update. No doubt to the joy of some and the despair of others, the Courts have overruled the Canarian Government’s plan to require covidsafe proof for entry to cultural and hospitality venues. They have also overruled the midnight closure. As we know they also refused the curfew. Seemingly, despite ICU capacity being at critical levels, the Courts will not allow the Canarian Government to impose any restrictions on the freedom of those who wish to do nothing to protect themselves and who therefore, inevitably, risk all our lives, We are, it seems, on our own. Stay safe, do whatever you can to protect yourselves because the Courts will not allow the Government to do it for you. You can check what the rules are that are in place at any time, as well as figures for case numbers, hospital admissions etc., together with travel regulations HERE where I’ve given links to all relevant official sources.

27 July: There will be no curfew. Although some regions less affected by covid have successfully imposed it, in the Canaries the Supreme Court has said no to the regional Government’s appeal against its rejection by the HIgh Court. The Court’s ruling said that the request to limit free movement could “not be justified given current circumstances in Tenerife”. Almost in immediate response, Arona has announced overnight parking bans in areas where cars are known to gather for botellones: at least one council, therefore, is responding in the way that the Courts clearly intended. The powers exist. The police are employed. They just need to be deployed with clear instructions to enforce the rules. Hopefully they will now do so.

26 July: From midnight last night, Tenerife is now in Level 4, the regulation published in the BOC HERE today. The main new measures are the requirement for what we can call a covid passport – proof of vaccination or negative test or recovery from covid – to be allowed into catering or cultural premises like a cinema, theatre or auditorium. Closing time is not 6pm as previously in Level 4 but remains as formerly in Level 3, at midnight. Meanwhile the Government expects to hear this week from the Supreme Court as to its appeal against the rejection of its proposed curfew which would see the streets cleared of the public entirely between 12.30 and 6am.

22 July: Well, you know, when you can’t do anything sensible, sometimes you just have to do something even if it achieves little and will get everyone on your back. That’s the position the Canarian Government is in today, and all islands with the exception of El Hierro have risen a level following today’s cabinet meeting: Tenerife will therefore rise to Level 4 from 00.00h Monday (midnight Sunday night). No-one wants it, businesses will be incandescent with fury, and it won’t help the main problem identified by the Government, namely post-midnight botellones by the 25-40 age group, but the Government clearly feels compelled to do something when vaccination centres are being closed due to staff needed in hospitals to attend patients admitted with covid, and when Intensive Care Units are issuing red alerts or hospitals are activating Contingency Plans for the same reasons.

The Government is adapting level 4 measures so that adults will have either to present a full vaccination certificate, a negative test carried out within the last 72 hours, or proof of having overcome the infection – essentially it’s what the EU’s digital green passport provides – to access hotels, restaurants, and cultural and sporting venues. In addition, what will please many is that the Level 4 closing time of 6pm will change to midnight. This is, however, very far from dealing with the problem that the Government has itself identified, that of family groupings and late-night botellones. The changed measures for Level 4 will be published in the BOC on Monday when we will have full details but meanwhile we wait for the Courts’ ruling on the Government’s curfew appeal. A toque de queda has been approved in Valencia, Catalonia and Cantabria, where data are less concerning than ours, and perhaps the Government feels that raising Tenerife to a modified Level 4 sends a symbolic message to convey to the Supreme Court how serious they consider the situation to be here in Tenerife.

21 July: Sanidad (Canarias) has started legal proceedings against a German national denounced by the Guardia Civil for refusing to isolate after receiving a positive covid diagnosis and so endangering public health. The man was contacted by track and trace personnel but failed to answer, finally being apprehended in the airport as he attempted to fly back to Germany. Failing to isolate is classified in covid legislation as a serious offence with fines set between €3,000 and €60,000. 

Meanwhile, Spain has legislated for antigen tests to be available over the counter in chemists for around €10. The tests are not suitable for travellers because they won’t be carried out by medical professionals nor analysed in official centres but they will offer a fast and easy means of checking for those who need to know if they’re infected. National Health Secretary Carolina Darias said that those who test positive will need both to inform Sanidad (Canarias) of the result and to have a PCR test to confirm that the result is from a currently present virus rather than prior infection. The legislation has been published today in the BOE HERE.

15 July: The last two days’ case numbers have been awful: we were fearful when they were in their 300s, and pleased when they reduced a few days ago from the 500s to the 400s; today there are 690. As I’ve suggested a few times recently, however, in comments here and on the podcast, they are shifting a bit away from just case numbers as an indicator now that the vaccination rates are so high, and moving more towards assessments based on hospital admissions and fatalities. Nonetheless, such figures are sobering to see when Tenerife hospitals are triggering emergency warnings now for ICU capacity, and even more worrying to contemplate in the light of continued and fairly widespread refusals among 20-40 year olds to comply with safety measures.  As far as the Government is concerned, indeed, the Courts’ refusal to approve a 12.30-6am curfew was a resounding blow, though as I said yesterday all it would take to achieve an immediate end to the botellones the Government wants to see the back of is enforcement of rules that already exist and are in place for that specific purpose.

The Government has confirmed, nonetheless, that it will appeal to the Supreme Court the refusal of the curfew due to the “grave and imminent danger these islands face”, not least through the new variants, particularly Delta which is flourishing here. Government spokesman Julio Pérez and Health Minister Blas Trujillo said that this was because botellones wouldn’t even be able to be contemplated if no-one could leave their dwellings in the night, and that the state of the pandemic right now required these extraordinary measures. They confirmed too that despite these figures, Tenerife stays in level 3 and Gran Canaria in level 2, though Fuerteventura moves up to level 3 and La Palma up to 2. Meanwhile, the Government will consider over coming days whether general access to buildings open to the public could in some way be linked to proof of vaccination now that documentation is up to speed to offer suffiicient proof. Pérez explained that there were other departments of Government involved in these considerations and so more information would be forthcoming on this in the near future.

14 July: The Courts have turned down the Canarian Government’s request to impose a nightly curfew from 12.30am to prevent street parties of youngsters. Canarian Health Secretary Blas Trujillo has responded to the announcement by saying that the Courts’ ruling removes one of the Government’s most powerful tools, apart from vaccination, to deal with infections but didn’t confirm whether the Government would appeal or not: it has a few days now to decide on that. Meanwhile, tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting will decide on whether Tenerife will go to Level 4 or not, and with today’s judicial refusal of a measure the Government considered key, the odds might have just have tightened on that possibility. The Courts seem to be insisting on the fact that there are already sufficient measures in place to prevent botellones … they’re illegal for a start, and in any case under alert levels 3 and 4. the levels to which the Government sought to apply curfew, groups are limited to four. And so, the Courts are effectively asking the Government to justify why they need botellon restrictions when they simply cannot take place anyway under existing measures.

And, apparently, the Government has no answer to a question that’s now being asked very widely! This is quite simply down to enforcement, and that is down to the deployment of the Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil and, perhaps above all, the mayors getting their Policía Local forces out with emphatic instructions to enforce the laws that are clear and already in effect. That’s not enough, however, for the eastern province’s hotel association FEHT, the Las Palmas counterpart of Tenerife’s Ashotel. They are calling for curfew now even for islands in Level 2, like Gran Canaria and Fueteventura. This argument won’t go away but at some point they have to stop arguing and actually do something to get these figures down in the face of routine non-compliance with any safety measures by the main sector now openly named by policy makers and science advisers as responsible for protracting the problem – the 20-40s age group. It is quite clear, as well as completely socially comprehensible, that the Government just has to take responsibility for the policing of its own measures rather than devolving that duty by calling on  “public responsibility” or asking the Courts to duplicate legislation.

8 July: Despite much rumour and hype, Tenerife remains in Level 3 tonight while Gran Canaria has joined Fuerteventura in Level 2 because of its own rise in cases. Today these have provided record figures, over 500 in 24 hours through the islands, the majority again in Tenerife, but there is clearly a shift in assessment of risk. This shift appears to be driven by the altering dynamic where vaccination cover of more vulnerable sectors is now at a level where attention can be turned to the superficially more resilient sectors of younger age groups which, naturally, are the very ones considered to be driving the figures because they are more cavalier about covid because of that apparent resilience. In reality, however, the evidence is increasingly being interpreted as suggesting they’re at greater risk in various ways from Long Covid and lifelong debilitation that, moreover, will last many more years since they’re young. This is, anyway, what seems to be behind the increasing focus here, and elsewhere, on hospital admission figures (especially ICU) and fatalities, and the view that from this point on they are more useful as indicators than just bald case numbers.  

This thinking is what is behind the extra measures that have been announced today, introduced to reinforce Level 3. These are a prohibition on sales of alcoholic drinks after 10pm and the closure between 8pm and 6am.of beaches, parks, plazas, etc, where youngsters may gather for botellones – street parties. As Canarian Health Minister Blas Trujillo explained, these youngsters don’t go to bars, to restaurants, so the measures we need are different to restrictions on those businesses. This combination of factors is what underpins the additional restriction – at present only proposed – of a reintroduced curfew between 12.30 and 6am: the Government will ask the Courts to approve it specifically because it is intended to prevent a particular thing – botellon – which is defined almost exclusively as a gathering of the young to drink and party outside of a formal commercial setting. It is that clarity of definition that was missing when the Courts threw out the previous curfew so it will be interesting to see if they will now, with a clear reason and specific argument, permit it.

The new measures come into force midnight Saturday-Sunday, with specific details to be confirmed when the legislation is published – the list at the top of the page in bold will contain the latest confirmed details. (edit 10 July: published in the BOC)

Updated 2 July: Over the past few days, the Canarian Government has been embroiled in discussions over measures, first with the catering sector over safety regulations in bars and restaurants following the Court ruling disallowing interiors to be closed, and now this morning with its own Cabinet to determine what measures might conceivably have some effect in Tenerife, where cases are soaring. They are, though, rising throughout the islands with the Delta/India variant now accounting for 10% of cases here, three times as many as just a week ago with the strain expected to become the dominant one here (as elsewhere). Hitherto, what has been called the Alpha/British/Kent variant has accounted for around 85% of cases.

For Tenerife, the combination of measures now in place as a result of increasing cases and the Courts throwing out some measures remaining in place after the lifting of the national state of emergency means that groups are still limited to four if non-cohabitants. There is no curfew. Catering outlets close at midnight with indoor service permitted to 50% capacity if 10% of customers are fully vaccinated. In a similar vein, it’s four to a table unless all are vaccinated in which case six can sit together. Two max at an indoor bar. Terraces now 75% capacity with max six to a table.

Regional President Torres said this morning that the policing of these measures and their sanctions would be intensified. Torres stressed that the public must “take the utmost precautions because there is nothing to celebrate. We’ve had a hard few months”, he said, “but now we can begin to see the finishing line we can’t let up on our efforts”. Perhaps some have better vision to discern that finishing line than others but the reference to intensified policing is welcome … could hardly have been otherwise given reports of widespread violations.

Updated 29 June: Following an appeal by various agents of the hostelry industry, the Courts have suspended the Level 3 measures banning indoor service in catering establishments. The Government was, anyway, already in discussion with business leaders in the hope of finding some compromise to maximise safety and minimise business disruption, and we will have to wait to see what they might be able to agree. For now, however, the Courts say the Government cannot prevent catering premises providing a service to customers inside. 

Updated 24 June: Spain has announced that face masks will no longer be compulsory in the open air where 1.5m of personal distance can be maintained. Masks will not be required either for residents in old-people’s homes where over 80% are fully vaccinated though workers and visitors will still have to wear them. They remain required in enclosed public spaces (heath centres, schools, etc) and in enclosed private spaces that are open to the public (shops, chemists, etc), and on public transport and in private vehicles shared by those who do not live together, and in any open-air events where standing crowds are permitted (eg concerts). Perhaps the most significant element of the new rules is that we must always carry a mask with us because we will have to put it on whenever that 1.5m distancing is at risk or when we go into a shop … it could be needed at any time, the Government says, and we must always have one with us.

The new rules come into force from midnight tomorrow night, Friday 25 June, so 00.00h Saturday 26 June. (edit 25 June: published in the BOE HERE). National Health Secretary Carolina Darias has said that her EU counterparts have expressed surprise at how compliant the Spanish have been in terms of the face mask rules. She’s said that this flexibilization is based in the scientific evidence and the technical work of the Alerts team which have allowed the conclusion that Spain can be in the same situation as neighbouring countries like France which has also relaxed mask rules, but that she is proud of the public’s “exemplary behaviour” and that it deserves this reward … and that includes the bonus that “smiles come back again to our streets”. It’s not all that much, and we still have to carry the masks, but it feels a significant step.

Updated 23 June: As of yesterday, I am one of the 15m people that national Health Secretary Carolina Darias announced today had received the pauta completa (full dose) of vaccine. Thankfully this time I’ve not had the same reaction as to the first vaccine, just a sore arm (again) and a bit of an altered sense of taste. Whatever the previous rollout speed arguments, Spain is now steaming along, now inoculating even the 30-year-olds and with every single over-80 fully vaccinated, and 80% of the 50-59 age group having received at least one dose. There is a post with information about the vaccine HERE.

Tomorrow, the national Government will announce its decision on whether to change the rules for face masks from this Saturday, but meanwhile here in Tenerife, our figures are behaving anomalously and rising badly. There are no clear and confirmed views as to why this island is doing so very much worse than any other in the Canaries but there is an inevitable range of opinions. Some politicians blame the public’s covid fatigue and people’s refusal to obey group number restrictions, whether family get-togethers or beach parties; others blame the public for “bringing it south”, but that false argument is predicated on the erroneous view that it’s only really in the north: in fact, only three municipios in the whole of Tenerife are without cases now – Buenavista del Norte, La Guancha and El Tanque. Some medical experts are quite vociferously blaming local mayors, first for not ensuring that their municipal police enforce the measures, and secondly for mixed messaging, but we know that it’s not a clear-cut situation when the Policía Local have to enforce rules on friends, colleagues and family.

Today, following an extraordinary regional Cabinet meeting, the Canarian Government has raised Tenerife’s level to 3 from 24h Friday 25 June/00h Saturday 26. Regional Health Secretary Blas Trujillo said that the Government had great concern about the significant change Tenerife is experiencing in the nature and extent of covid here. Trujillo said that over recent weeks case figures have been in a continual ascent, and that Tenerife’s accumulated incidence for the past week was 122.4 cases per 100,000 population while on Tuesday this had risen to 165.2, and the 14 day incidence had effectively doubled from 54 to 95.7.. And so although Lanzarote remains at level 2 and all other islands are now at level 1, Tenerife is back to level 3’s closed interiors in hospitality venues, an 11pm closure, and groups limited to four. There are no estado de alarma measures in place, however, like curfew or intra-regional travel restrictions, so the return to level 3 doesn’t affect travel between Tenerife and the other islands in the Canaries – no tests, declarations, etc are needed for that.

Regardless of the specific measures for Tenerife and of whatever’s decided tomorrow with regard to face masks, however, I just wish that people would respect distancing rules in particular. Whenever I go anywhere, I find it’s the single most violated rule: every time I’m anywhere I have to ask someone to move back and provide un pelín de distancia por favor. I get that some people dismiss covid fears, and that others think measures are an infringement of their personal rights, but it is simply uncivilized not only to crowd someone who might be fearful, but also to put them in a situation where they have to ask for space without knowing the type of response they’re going to get … plenty respond angrily to perfectly polite requests to put a mask on, or step back a bit. Even queueing at the hospital yesterday someone came up and stood right behind me, so close that if I’d taken half a step back I’d have trodden on their feet. I imagine people think they can pressure others to move the queue forwards because I’d left a clear 1.5m distance between myself and the person in front of me but I turned round and asked them to move back. They did apologize and retreated instantly but it could have been different and I wish people would take time to think of someone else and the concerns they might have. I know it’s beyond some, but it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of so many …

Updated 18 June: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has said that there will be an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on Thursday next week to decide on whether to change the rules for face masks from Saturday 26 June. The full details of the change will be announced after the measure is formally approved, assuming Cabinet agrees to Sánchez’ proposal to end of the obligation to wear them out of doors where 1.5m distancing is maintained. We will have full details of all the measures relating to face masks when the meeting is over on Thursday.

Updated 4 June: As we know, Spain itself announced on 24 May that it would allow British and Japanese visitors back into the country without restriction as long as arrivals come straight here and haven’t been in a “risk country” in the previous fortnight. The Canarian Government itself has now published the decree I reported about last week (update immediately below) allowing tourists to access regulated tourist accommodation from anywhere without a test if they’ve been vaccinated.

I’ve updated the Restrictions in a Nutshell page HERE, but the decree itself is HERE. It allows visitors to enter their holiday accommodation without a test if they provide documentary evidence of having been vaccinated more than a fortnight but less than eight months prior to arrival (four months if a single dose administered – slightly different for those who can show at least one of two required doses administered). Those who can show that they have recovered from covid within the previous six months will also be exempt from bringing a negative test, as is anyone who can prove that they are returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours.

Unfortunately, British holidaymakers have already been mistakenly told that they may not come to regulated tourist accommodation here because they are non-EU, or that a covid test result must be provided even if they’ve been vaccinated or have a medical cert of having had covid. This is wrong. The decree allows for “any one of the following conditions” to permit tourists to access their accommodation, and those conditions are any one (not all) of the following:

  • antigen test
  • certificate showing full vaccine has been received within eight months prior to arrival
  • certificate showing first of two required doses have been received more than a fortnight but less than four months prior to arrival
  • medical proof of recovering from covid itself
  • proof of returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours

Updated 28 May: The Canarian Government is removing the requirement for negative covid tests for some arrivals from other parts of Spain. Those who won’t have to bring a test are those who provide documentary evidence of having been vaccinated more than a fortnight but less than eight months prior to arrival (four months for the single dose vaccine). Those who can show that they have recovered from covid within the previous six months will also be excused the need to bring a negative test, as is anyone who can prove that they are returning to the Canaries after being outside the area for less than 72 hours. The new measure will come into force when it’s published in the BOC next week.

Updated 27 May: Following today’s Cabinet meeting, Gran Canaria moves to level 1 but Tenerife and Lanzarote stay in level 2. 

Updated 14 May: The Canarian Government has published its new closing times for the different levels. They are in the BOC HERE and set closing times for islands in level 1 and 2 at midnight; level 3 at 11pm; and level 4 at  6pm.  

Updated 13 May: In the first weekly revision since the end of the estado de alarma, the Canarian Government has confirmed that Tenerife remains in level 2. As announced yesterday, bars will be able to stay open until midnight from tomorrow night, gaining an hour for level 2. Next revision will be in a week, meanwhile El Hierro has gone down from level 2 to level 1.

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

Updated 12 May: Following this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, the Canarian Government has confirmed this evening that it won’t be appealing the curfew rule. The Courts rejected the plan for a curfew on the grounds that although there was no human rights issue in a health emergency, the Government had other rules in place to control behaviour, like bar closure times, and so a curfew was not needed on top of that. The Government has said that it will, however, appeal the Courts’ rejection of its inter-island travel restrictions for islands in levels 3 or 4. It has also announced that hospitality venues like bars and restaurants in islands in level 2, like Tenerife, will be required to close at midnight instead of 11pm from Friday night. Government spokesman Julio Pérez said that the Government already had power to enforce closing times of venues and so their main concern was restricting group sizes, a measure which the Courts approved. As such, the Government has concluded that they have sufficient powers without the curfew, and Pérez emphasized that in this phase, the control of the pandemic was down to individual responsibility.

Updated 10 May: Before appealing direct to the Supreme Court, the Canarian Government asked the Canarian High Court for clarification as to whether the measures were legally enforceable during the appeal process. They were told that they were not, and so while the appeal to the Supreme Court proceeds, there is no curfew in place. This at least clarifies the situation of those who might have been fined this week for violations of a measure that was in abeyance, but means that by the weekend we could have curfew back, along with all the damage caused in the intervening days. For this reason the Government has begged the public to behave responsibly over the next few days while the appeal confirms whether this measure can or cannot be in place.

Updated 6pm, 9/5: The Canarian Government has confirmed this evening that it will appeal today’s ruling by the Canarian High Court to the Supreme Court, and the Government says it is already working on it. The Government also confirmed that after its initial analysis of the Canarian High Court’s ruling, it considers the measures to remain in force while the appeal proceeds … we therefore have curfew and inter-island travel restrictions despite the non-ratification of the High Court pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Updated 9 May: The Canarian High Court has ratified some of the regional Government’s measures but not the curfew or entry restrictions for islands in level 3 or 4. It has confirmed group limits according to the tier, along with places of worship capacity restrictions. The Court said that it rejected the request for the curfew, however, because it was a simple matter of a restriction at a particular hour when, for the Government to curtail risky public behaviour it has other legal instruments to intervene that impinge on individual rights to a lesser extent.

So, the Government has been confirmed to have the power to set tier levels for the separate islands and the group limits according to the level of alert in place for each island: in Tenerife’s case this is currently level 2 with groups limited to six. With regard to the two measures rejected by majority 3-2 vote, the Government has indicated that it will appeal to the Supreme Court, and indeed the Supreme Court may be the likeliest final destination for all these piecemeal measures around the country that inevitably replaced the cohesive framework of the estado de alarma. Some regions of Spain have already had their proposed measures refused, others are like the Canaries in having some agreed and others refused, yet others have curfew approved while here it’s been rejected, and so on. Some see it inevitable that there will have to be some coordination in Spain’s future covid measures because there are presently 17 autonomous communities all doing their own thing with their own regional Courts reacting differently. 

Updated 8 May: The Canarian High Court will rule tomorrow, Sunday, on the regional Government’s measures which need judicial ratification since the estado de alarma which provided that national framework ends at midnight tonight. The specific measures which need legal ratifying are the perimetral closure of the islands at level 3 and 4, curfew, group limits, and capacity restrictions in places of workship. No other measures, eg facemasks, need extra powers and are within the remit of the Canarian Government to set.

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.