The UK Government currently advises British nationals against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain. Anyone who travels to Tenerife despite this advice may find their insurance invalid, and Government assistance in the case of even non-Covid-related problems minimized if not not-existent. Everyone who returns from any part of Spain must also quarantine for a fortnight on arrival back in the UK. Please see HERE for more information on this situation.
Spain has lifted its state of emergency but various parts of the country have local lockdowns. Elsewhere, including the Canaries, we’re in a stage known as the New Normal, likely to last until Spain declares an end to the health emergency which is likely to be only when a vaccine is developed or a guaranteed treatment becomes available. The rules were last modified by both Spanish and Canarian Governments on 14 August 2020 (see the two updates of that date below for detail), and their main effects for us personally are:
- face masks must be worn by everyone of 6 years of age and above at all times whether or not 1.5m distancing is possible. This applies to all public spaces, indoors and out, all people in work, and including beaches and swimming pools (except when swimming or sunbathing in a designated zone), catering establishments (except specifically when eating, but must be worn between sips of a drink if not eating), public transport or cars shared with others from a different household. Exemptions exist for those with certified medical conditions
- smoking is permitted in outdoor public spaces if 2m distancing can be guaranteed but is banned in the outside areas of all bars, restaurants, etc regardless of distancing. Smoking is already banned throughout Spain in enclosed public spaces like bars, restaurants, airports, as well as outside schools, hospitals, etc
- groups and meetings limited to 10
- Physical distancing of 1.5m wherever possible
- shops and offices including Government departments, bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums, churches, beaches etc are open but with time and capacity restrictions, distancing & hygiene rules. Appointments or pre-booking may be necessary: clear information should be available on site or online
- hotels, bars, cafés and restaurants close by 1am, last customers in by midnight
- late night bars, nightclubs & discos are closed indoors and out
- visits to and outings from senior citizens’ centres limited
- mass events require prior Sanidad risk assessment and authorization
- no quarantine applies to visitors to Spain but they must fill out a form (digital or paper) with their personal details including their location in Spain; they are also checked by automated temperature cameras and visual inspection before passing border control
- in islands with more cases than 100 per 100,000 population (currently not Tenerife) events involving more than 10 are banned, hostelry and restaurant businesses close by midnight, and day centres are closed
Updated 12 September: Police have broken up an illegal botellón (street drinking party) of 15 people in El Puertito in Adeje in which no-one was complying with any covid19 protection measures such as distancing and masks. Botellones are currently banned under national Government rules as of the 14 August update below. The Guardia Civil also removed a dozen people illegally camping there and all will now all be subject to police action and fines, says the force.
Separately, El Rosario Policía Local broke up a party of some 40 individuals – a group of a size illegal under current covid measures – in a finca in the Llano del Moro area. Again there were no safety measures in place. Police say that they were advised of the party by neighbours, and the two organizers are being prosecuted for a “serious offence”, so fines will be significant with sanctions of up to €30,000 at the Courts’ disposal.
Updated 10 September: As promised the Canarian Government has announced today the details of how schooling will be organized. The Education Department has confirmed that classes will resume next week as proposed, with infants and primary starting on Tuesday 15 and on Wednesday 16 for secondary school.
Government spokesman Julio Perez said that the Government felt that it was right to proceed with resumption on 15 September and that school health safety was guaranteed, with schools adopting all necessary precautions including increasing teacher complements. PCR tests will be performed on pupils, teachers and admin staff in any areas where covid19 is higher than average.
Updated 6 September: The Spanish Government has extended to the end of this month its consumer protection for water, electricity and gas: suppliers won’t be able to disconnect consumers because of the covid19 outbreak. Those who are getting a “bono social” for electricity – a direct discount in the bill – will also find this extended to 30 September.
Updated 5 September: The Canarian Government has published the new sanctions regime in the BOC today HERE.
Updated 4 September: As I posted in the 1 Sept update, we could anticipate an announcement that the rise of cases in El Hierro would cause the island to join Gran Canaria and Lanzarote in special measures, and today that announcement has been made. Three of the Canary Islands are now in special measures. This means that in Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and El Hierro, where there are more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents, in addition to the rules which we are all following, they will also be banned from holding events involving more than 10 (the rest of us have a limit of 10 just for meetings and social groups), hostelry and restaurant businesses must close by midnight (the rest of us have 1am), and day centres are closed. The latest chart from ISTAC/gobcan is just below.
Meanwhile, the Canarian Cabinet met yesterday and as is now usual on a Thursday, we have some new measures. This week, these relate to increased sanctions for non-compliance with fines for not wearing a mask now up to a maximum of €3,000 for repeated offences – the minimum fine for a one-off failure remains at €100. Exceeding permitted capacity restrictions will result in businesses being fined from €60,000 up to a maximum of €600,000. Fines of between €3,000 and €60,000 will be imposed for consuming alcohol or drugs in the street in groups of over ten, as for failure to comply with required isolation, opening premises that have been officially closed, making an employee remain in work if s/he tests positive or has symptoms, and for preventing inspections or failing to collaborate with the authorities.
Some will think these “ridiculous”, others will welcome the imposition of fines that show the authorities mean it when they say “comply or else”. I’ll post a link to the new Order when it’s published in the BOC.
Updated 2 September: As I’ve been saying over the past few days, Canarian President Torres has been talking about the possibility of reconfinements if numbers don’t start to go down by the end of next week. In fact, since he said it last weekend they have done nothing but continue to rise, and increasingly so. I post the daily figures HERE, but the graphic below shows why the authorities are so concerned. March and especially April were bad: August has put them in the shade and now it seems to be takng off even more.
Only today local media is reporting a woman who had tested positive in Gran Canaria but who was asymptomatic and refused to isolate. She came to Tenerife where she is now being monitored by the health authorities after being picked up by the track and trace app. Police are processing a fine but how many were in her company in Gran Canaria and here completely unaware she was infectious? Others treat health safety measure policing like smoking at school trying to dodge the teachers: until such people stop thinking it’s just funny and clever to risk others’ lives, we are in trouble. The fact that others applaud it when they boast about it suggests we already are.
Updated 1 September: As I mentioned in the podcast yesterday, the Canarian Education Department has said that although teachers are back in schools, and classes are set to commence on the 15th of this month, details of how schooling will be organized won’t be confirmed until the 10th. The department has said, however, that with the current figures of covid in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, schools would not be reopening there if they were supposed to be restarting today. As President Torres told Parliament only yesterday, “this pandemic is not under the control of the Prime Minister, nor the King, nor even the Pope.”
The rise of cases over the last three days in El Hierro has not yet resulted in an announcement that the island has joined Gran Canaria and Lanzarote in special measures but one can now be anticipated soon. Meanwhile, all three islands’ hospitals have now implemented full contingency plans to adapt facilities, staff and stocks to cope with care demands that have risen because of the increase in positive cases. The daily figures are in THIS post.
Updated 31 August: The Canarian Government is so concerned about the alarming rise in numbers in the islands, and very aware of the severe effect a “reconfinement” will have, that they have turned to plain clothes police to monitor and enforce compliance when it appears to the public that no officers are around. As regional President Torres has said over this weekend, if numbers don’t start to come down over this week and next, that is what will have to happen despite the fact that it will be “dramatic” in social and economic terms. So if you find yourself thinking there aren’t many police about, or why don’t they actually put some police on the street, they are likely already to be there, hiding in plain sight, as well as plain clothes.
Updated 30 August: There seems some confusion about how many can meet up now, especially since some rules apply to those areas where there are more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents, and some apply everywhere. The confusion arises because people are not distinguishing between meetings and events. The rules are that social and business groups and meetings are limited to ten – everywhere; this is a Spanish Government measure introduced on 14 August (see 17 August update below) and remaining in force until specifically revoked by the national Government. In addition, now, organized events (like a race, or a concert) are restricted to a maximum of ten in islands with 100+ cases per 100,000 population; this is a Canarian Government measure introduced 29 August (see yesterday’s update below), and remaining in force at least for the next fortnight when it will be reviewed.
Updated 29 August: The new measures have been published in the BOC today and can be viewed HERE. They will apply for the next fortnight in the first instance but only one applies throughout the Canaries, namely that face masks are now to be worn at all times at work. The others apply where more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents have been registered within the previous week and this is currently Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, not Tenerife. These are the main points and where they do apply:
- face mask to be worn at work at all times (whole of Canaries)
- events involving more than 10 are banned (islands with >100/100,000 cases)
- hostelry and restaurant businesses to close by midnight (islands with >100/100,000 cases)
- day centres closed (islands with >100/100,000 cases)
Meanwhile, President Torres has said that we are looking are “reconfinements” if numbers don’t start to come down within the next fortnight.
Updated 28 August: Another Thursday, another set of measures. We have been aware that the Government was very worried about what it calls the social irresponsibility of those who will not comply with health safety measures, and self-evidently by the increasingly alarming resurgent figures. Tonight, we now know that the Canarian Government will take up Pedro Sánchez offer of army support to reinforce monitoring for the islands’ track and trace programme, and that yet more restrictions will be applied, especially in hot spots of infection such as Gran Canaria currently, a hot spot being defined as an area in which there is a minimum of 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Lanzarote is apparently almost there, with 99.
In making the announcement today, Canarian President Ángel Torres said that the latest restrictions are the hardest possible, but that they would be useless if people did not comply with them. As such, Torres made an explicit request to the public throughout the Canaries to report non-compliance of safety measures to the authorities. He called the latest measures “drastic” but said that with increasing cases the Government had no option if it wanted to avoid returning to the dark days of March and April. The measures will be published in the BOC probably on Saturday and we can expect to see events limited to a maximum of ten, at least in hot spot areas; restaurants throughout the islands to be required to close at midnight; and the compulsory wearing of masks in all areas of all work places.
Policing will be maximised, the President said, and every force will meet daily to analyze the situation and ensure compliance with the measures on beaches, terraces and in other public places. Torres added that the Government would apply maximum sanctions and in fact is working on a decree to increase the amounts that people can be fined. This is because compliance is key, he argued, “first for health and then for the economy. Let’s enforce the rules on those who don’t. Most do, we were an example in confinement and we don’t want to go back. We pass the laws to be obeyed, obliged by the circumstances, and they are the hardest measures that can be taken but you can’t put a police officer next to every one of two million Canarians!”
Speaking very bluntly, Torres said that “our health and future are at risk. Quarantine is not optional for those who test positive. This isn’t a game. The pandemic is going to be with us until there is a vaccine”. The President criticized those who’ve held parties on boats, where distancing is not respected, and other measures are ignored. This behaviour is paid for by the hundreds of positive cases, he said, including young people having to be admitted to hospitals, lives and vulnerable people being put at risk. I haven’t heard Torres quite like this before. I’ve written below of the concern of the authorities, and said in a recent podcast that you could see the fear as the figures rose. This is yet a new stage. They are serious. They have to be now.
Updated 26 August: The Canaries’ Scientific Committee spokesman for the pandemic, Lluis Serra, has said that given the new increases in figures it is vital to reinforce police presence and sanctions, to ensure sufficient facilities exist for those testing positive to isolate themselves, and not to discount the Canaries moving backwards into a restrictive phase. Serra says that he doesn’t see the islands adopting their new powers to institute a regional estado de alarma, at least not currently.
Updated 25 August: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has announced that any autonomous region now has the right to declare an estado de alarma (state of emergency). The imposition will be via the national Government which will officially declare it, but any regional president can request it. Sánchez urged regional Presidents to make use of the new powers and promised that the national Government will also provide support via armed forces to facilitate track and trace measures as appropriate.
To some extent, I would say that this is not so much Sánchez realizing he can’t get the support for a national lockdown again, but rather realizing that a national lockdown is a blunt instrument that’s inappropriate a second time for a country reeling economically. Instead of the sledgehammer, therefore, regions can now apply measures to target outbreaks that might be getting out of hand locally.
Whether or not the Canarian Government will take advantage of the ability to declare an estado de alarma in these islands is another matter of course, but they now have the power to do so should they feel that increased policing and tighter restrictions have still failed to curtail what they openly call the “social irresponsibility” of those who simply will not abide by public health measures to save their own lives, let alone those of their entire society
Updated 4pm, 21/8: The Canarian Government has published the ruling about the new measures that were announced yesterday in the BOC today HERE. This of course means that they are now in force.
Updated 21 August: The Tenerife Cabildo has said that to contribute to the Canarian Government’s efforts to control nightlife in the resurgent covid19 outbreak, it has suspended night trams in the metropolitan area during weekends. From tonight, therefore, there won’t be a service on Friday and Saturday nights between midnight and 6am. Other times and routes operate normally and can be consulted HERE.
Updated 20 August: The Canarian Government has met today, as reported, to consider yet more restrictive measures in the face of what it calls “social irresponsibility”. After the meeting, the following new measures have been announced – some of the measures you will recognize from Spanish legislation recently announced, and which have now not only been adopted but incorporated into Canarian law. They will come into force tomorrow when the legislation is published in the BOC.
- indoor and outdoor nightlife has been closed “absolutely” – (“cierre absoluto del ocio nocturno”). The measure applies to discos, terraces, dancehalls, and late night bars, with or without live music
- all hotels, bars, cafés and restaurants to close at 1.00 a.m, last customers in at midnight – law overrules existing licensing hours
- visits to senior citizens’ centres are limited, as are senior citizen outings from residential centres
- mass events to have prior Sanidad risk assessment and authorization
Sanidad reminds the public, too, that the recommended hygiene measures must be maintained by law in both public and private settings. These are: personal safety distancing, frequent hand washing, and compulsory face mask wearing – see the list at the top of the page in bold for the full range of measures in place as they affect our daily lives.
Updated 18 August: Empowered ignorance. That is what the Colegio de Médicos de Las Palmas calls the wilful refusal to wear masks and the disbelief in a virus that is all too real, or the conviction that even if it exists, its effects have been overblown. The simple fact is, doctors say, that it is wilful misrepresentation to present covid19 as no worse than flu, a separate virus family with fatality rates calculated differently, and the combination of these beliefs – that covid19 doesn’t exist and/or that it’s no worse than the flu – has meant people have relaxed and dropped their guards, assuming they were even on guard to begin with.
The Colegio of Médicos has therefore issued an urgent call to the public to get a grip on health safety measures and their response to the pandemic because their “empowered ignorance” is endangering everyone. Even if, the doctors say, younger people have fewer complications, suffer covid either mildly or even asymptomatically, they carry it on to others who are less fortunate. And for those who say it’s “only the old and already sick who die anyway”, doctors have a sharp response: this might be true, but even if you think that, and even if you don’t care if your own parents die from it, it is the manner of the death that is so appalling. It is not just a case of anyone’s “time being up” but of dying face down on a hospital bed, alone, gasping for breath, or with tubes pumping lungs mecbanically because their internal architecture has been changed for good.
And that’s without considering the long-term effects that are increasingly recognized as a complication for survivors. Lungs are the least of it, as brains, muscles, heart, liver, kidneys are all affected leaving those who recover from covid itself as weak and helpless as kittens, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Over to you, the doctors say, and effectively echo what I said in the CanaryCast yesterday: get a grip and learn the difference between inconvenience and oppression. Rights are not absolute but relative, and come with responsibilities, so while one person can claim a right not to wear a mask, another can claim the right not to be infected. The real question is which of the two “rights” is the more important, urgent, or socially responsible.
Whatever the doctors say, however, politicians are not prepared to leave it to the public, and the choice of so many to exercise their “empowered ignorance”. Do it or we’ll get tougher measures yet, is the message from the Canarian Government, and it has announced that in any case the regional executive will meet again this Thursday to consider yet more restrictive measures in the face of what it calls “social irresponsibility”. Meanwhile, the Canarian Government’s Scientific Committee has repeated the Government’s call to all mayors to ensure that their municipal police forces double up their vigilance and issue very many more fines for non-compliance.
Ignorance is not empowering, and when it results in more extreme measures, no-one can say they weren’t warned …
Updated 17 August: I thought a quick ready reckoner of legislation in place right now would be useful, along with its current period of force and the legislating authority. Where a law has been passed by both regional and national Government, I’ve mentioned only the national Government because that’s the law that’s in place indefinitely now. The measures by the national Government are already in place because these have been approved and agreed with all the regional Governments. So:
- face masks – worn by everyone of and from 6 years of age at all times in all public spaces, indoors and out, including at or around beaches and swimming pools (except when swimming or sunbathing in a designated zone), catering establishments (except specifically when eating or drinking), public transport or cars shared with others from a different household. This applies to any built-up area regardless of distancing possibilities; it does not apply in natural spaces or open air spaces outside of towns and villages where a 1.5m distance can be maintained. Exemptions exist for those with certified medical conditions and those doing something which makes wearing a mask impossible but the former must carry medical proof and the latter must carry a mask to put on as soon as they’ve stopped doing whatever it is they can’t wear a mask for.
- Canarian Govt, in place until at least 28 August.
- smoking and vaping banned in the outside areas of all bars, restaurants, etc. This is regardless of any physical distancing.
- Canarian Govt, in place until at least 28 August.
- smoking and vaping are banned in the street and outdoor spaces unless a 2m minimum interpersonal distance can be guaranteed
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt (there is a national ban anyway on smoking in enclosed public spaces like bars, restaurants, airports, as well as outside schools, hospitals, etc).
- social groups and meetings limited to 10.
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt.
- events involving crowds require prior regional Health Department risk assessment.
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt.
- street drinking parties – botellon – prohibited.
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt.
- nightclubs & discos closed.
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt.
- all catering establishments including hotels, restaurants, cafés and establishments like beach bars and late night bars must close 1am latest with no customers admitted after midnight – regardless of permitted licensing hours (this is why this legislation is needed, to close those which would otherwise be open!).
- Spanish Govt, in place until specifically revoked by Govt.
Updated 16 August: I’ll say it one more time and that will be an end to it. The Canarian Government has said (HERE) that:
🚭 Tabaco, dispositivos de inhalación de tabaco, pipas de agua, cachimbas, shisha o asimilados
❌ No se permitirá en todos los locales de entretenimiento, ocio, hostelería, restauración y en cualquier otro tipo de establecimiento abierto al público
— Presidencia GobCan (@PresiCan) August 14, 2020
This says: Tobacco, tobacco inhalation devices, water pipes, bongos, shisha or similar – Not allowed in all entertainment, leisure, hotel, restaurant and any other type of establishment open to the public. This is in addition to the previous item on it being banned in public spaces where 2m distancing can’t be maintained.
As always with Canarian rules, they come into force when published in the BOC. That means that this has been in force since Friday 14 August because the publication is HERE. Please see point 7 (Séptimo) of the legislation which confirms that section 4.4 of the existing (June) legislation relevant to measures for establishments is adapted so that tobacco, tobacco inhalation devices, water pipes, bongos, shisha or similar are prohibited in all entertainment, leisure, hotel, restaurant and any other type of establishment open to the public, as follows:
Se modifica el apartado 4, del punto 4 relativo a “Condiciones para el desarrollo de determinados establecimientos, actividades y espectáculos públicos”, que queda redactado en los siguientes términos:
“4.4. Se prohíbe el uso de dispositivos de inhalación de tabaco, pipas de agua, cachimbas, shisha, o asimilados en todos los locales de entretenimiento, ocio, hostelería, restauración y en cualquier otro tipo de establecimiento abierto al público”.
So, regardless of what is said elsewhere or what has been posted in social media, smoking is banned in the Canaries except in streets or public spaces where a minimum of 2m distancing can be guaranteed. And this has been the case since last Friday.
I will take this opportunity to comment further. I have smoked myself, and although given up now, have no problem with smokers or people smoking. This is not an anti-smoker thing, it is just the law. It is entirely up to people what they do with the fact but this is what Canarian Government has legislated – and you have links to the legislation. It is not a personal crusade of my own or anything of the kind. I have no interest in whether someone smokes in a bar or not other than reporting the fact that it is not allowed.
It is also entirely up to people what they do with the information I report. If it conflicts with other publications, then ok, it conflicts. Make your own minds up which publication to follow/read/trust/believe … but don’t play them off against each other. We all get reports in various ways, from contacts, press releases, official info channels. Some of us get more than others, and each of us interprets in our own way. Most often we agree and coincide in what we report. Where we don’t, it is for readers to decide how to interpret the difference, not us, who are reporting as we understand the information and so can only repeat what we’ve posted anyway!
In terms of anything that relates to Facebook posts, I will say that I have left the platform now. For all the good that can be said about it, to my mind now it is fundamentally a toxic cesspit of idiocy, nastiness, and conspiracy theory (Qanon especially, the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories), and I will not have its venom brought here. I will therefore no longer publish comments or questions starting with something like “can you just clarify something I’ve read on FB” … and would just suggest that if that’s where anyone’s getting their news, well, they shouldn’t … . I hope readers understand my standpoint.
Updated 3pm, 14/8: Sanidad (Spain) has announced coordinated measures throughout Spain in response to the resurgent outbreak. The measures, see HERE, will apply here as well, and are in addition to those announced this morning by the Canarian Government and which are detailed below. Now, national Health Secretary Salvador Illa has announced the following additional restrictions which apply everywhere in Spain, naturally including the Canaries. Illa says that the Government has decided to adopt such coordinated actions for the first time in Spain’s democratic history of autonomous communities with their own regional Governments and devolved powers. These measures have been adopted unanimously by the Spanish Government and agreed by the regional Governments. They are now in force and will remain in effect until specifically revoked by the national Health Department. The measures are:
- the closure of all nightlife establishments – discos, cocktail bars, dance halls with or without performances
- hotel and catering establishments must ensure that there are no more than 10 customers per table or group thereof, and to close no later than 1am, with last customers admitted at midnight latest – please note that this applies to all hotels, bars, restaurants and their terraces regardless of individual licensing permissions (“El horario de cierre de los establecimientos [de hostelería, restauración, terrazas y bares/restaurantes de playa] será la 1:00 h. como máximo, sin que puedan admitirse nuevos clientes a partir de las 00:00 h.”
- protection measures reinforced for residential homes
- events involving crowds must have undertaken a regional Health Department risk assessment in advance
- street drinking parties – botellon – are prohibited. No drinking anywhere at any time on public roads. Municipalities have been told by national Government now (and regional Government here in the Canaries) to “apply the fines regime rigorously”
- Smoking and vaping are banned outdoors when a 2m minimum interpersonal distance cannot be maintained. Specifically the Government says that the obligation to wear a mask is waived while smoking or vaping outdoors if a 2m distance from others can be guaranteed
Smoking or vaping is a real issue for many. And so, I’ll try to interpretat the three rules. Firstly the Canarian Government says that it’s banned in streets or any open-air spaces if it’s not possible to guarantee 2m distancing. This is effectively what the national Government has also just said, namely that it’s banned outdoors when a 2m minimum interpersonal distance cannot be maintained. So, people can smoke out of doors on streets and in public spaces, or open spaces which are accessible to the public, providing that a 2m distance from others can be guaranteed.
The Canarian Government, however, has additionally said this morning that it’s banned in all entertainment, leisure, catering and other types of establishment open to the public – no mention of distancing, just a “no se permitirá”. So my understanding is that if someone is sitting having a coffee or a drink, or has eaten and usually smokes after dining, they cannot, but if they were to move to a promenade or a street, and can ensure a 2m distance, then they can remove their mask to smoke there.
Updated 14 August: Canarian President Ángel Torres says that the simple fact is that apart from family gatherings, nightlife enjoyed by the young is the principal driver of the resurgent covid19 outbreak in the Canaries. Torres said that this was why yesterday’s extraordinary meeting of the Canaries’ Governing Council opted to restrict it by stopping clubs and bars allowing customers in and only permitting them to use terraces, with seating only at tables, and no dancing. The President confirmed that the figures, which started increasing in their tens over several days, are now increasing by multiples of that, even of a hundred, and the Government had no choice whatsoever but to act, and firmly, in the face of youngsters who are behaving incorrectly in venues. This video has been issued to try to get across the message that just one last drink may well be the last drink that one ever has.
🎉Una simple fiesta puede acabar con la última copa en el hospital.
La #COVID19 puede causarte secuelas para toda la vida.
— Sanidad Gobcan (@SanidadGobCan) August 13, 2020
Torres stressed that the patient profile now is a young and asymptomatic individual spreading the virus through failure to follow the measures required of 1.5 physical distancing, face mask wearing, and rigorous and frequent hand washing. The President was adamant that he did not want to demonise the sector, or the young, but the conclusion was unavoidable that this was the main problem.
The new measures announced yesterday and in force from today will be in place for at least the next fortnight, with Torres indicating that future decisions will depend on how the outbreak evolves. The Government has confirmed today that the current new measures cover:
- everyone of and over 6 years of age must wear a mask in all public spaces indoors and out, including the street. Specifically public spaces are defined as open-air or enclosed spaces of public use or where the public has access, regardless of any distancing measures in place or possible
- masks are required in catering establishments, including bars and cafés, and may be removed only at the very moment of eating or drinking (the Spanish is “Se excluye la obligación del uso de la mascarilla solamente en el momento de la ingesta de alimentos o bebidas”. This confirms the police stance expressed yesterday that their view of how this is enforced is that someone nursing a drink must wear a mask, and they will not accept someone sitting, for example, with a group of people with drinks on the table while claiming “I’m drinking” as a reason for its removal
- masks are not required in schools for stable class groups or, if in wider school groupings, where a 1.5m physical distance is guaranteed
- masks are not required in natural spaces or open air spaces outside of towns and villages if the number of people about means that 1.5m distancing can be guaranteed. If it cannot they must be worn
- masks are required on beaches and by pools, and at their access points and walkways: this includes communal pools in complexes. Masks may be removed only while bathing or at rest in a determined space – ie sunbathing on a sunbed in a zone where distancing is organized (the Spanish is “Se excluye la obligación del uso durante el baño y mientras se permanezca en un espacio determinado, sin desplazarse, y siempre que se pueda garantizar la distancia de seguridad entre no convivientes)
- masks are recommended in private spaces in the open air or indoors when people from different households are meeting
- Smoking and vaping, water pipes and the like, are banned in all streets and open-air spaces where it is not possible to guarantee a 2m physical distance from anyone else, nor in any entertainment, leisure, hotel, restaurant or any other type of establishment open to the public. This is a controversial topic, so please note that the law says:
- No se permitirá fumar, usar dispositivos de inhalación de tabaco, pipas de agua, cachimbas, shisha o asimilados en la vía pública y en los espacios al aire libre, siempre que no resulte posible garantizar el mantenimiento de una distancia de seguridad interpersonal de 2 metros” (banned in streets etc)
- but the Government has confirmed HERE: Tabaco, dispositivos de inhalación de tabaco, pipas de agua, cachimbas, shisha o asimilados – No se permitirá en todos los locales de entretenimiento, ocio, hostelería, restauración y en cualquier otro tipo de establecimiento abierto al público (also banned in all entertainment, leisure, catering and any other type of establishment open to the public)
- A 1.5m distance must be kept between tables or groups of tables in catering establishments, as well as at their bars. Maximum occupancy per table or groups of tables inside or out will be 10.
- Discos and nightclubs will only be able to open their terraces or outdoor spaces to the public, and then only seated at tables to a maximum terrace capacity of 75%. Dancing is not permitted
The new measures have been published today in the BOC HERE, and in relation to various queries I can say that the exemptions that have always applied still apply. Those are expressed in article 6.2 of what we can call the New Normal Law, Real Decreto 21/2020, of 9 June, HERE. This says:
La obligación contenida en el apartado anterior no será exigible para las personas que presenten algún tipo de enfermedad o dificultad respiratoria que pueda verse agravada por el uso de la mascarilla o que, por su situación de discapacidad o dependencia, no dispongan de autonomía para quitarse la mascarilla, o bien presenten alteraciones de conducta que hagan inviable su utilización.
Tampoco será exigible en el caso de ejercicio de deporte individual al aire libre, ni en los supuestos de fuerza mayor o situación de necesidad o cuando, por la propia naturaleza de las actividades, el uso de la mascarilla resulte incompatible, con arreglo a las indicaciones de las autoridades sanitarias.
The obligations above are not imposed on those with any type of illness or respiratory problem that might be worsened by wearing a mask or those who, due to disability or dependency, cannot remove a mask, or suffer behavioural changes that make mask wearing unfeasible.
They are also not required for those practising individual sport in the open air, nor in cases of force majeure or situation of need, or when wearing a mask is incompatible with an action being undertaken, in accordance with the Health Authorities’ indications
Updated 5pm, 13/8: Now there is further detail on the new restrictions as below, and these should be published in the BOC tomorrow.
Facemasks are compulsory and must be worn correctly in open and closed spaces, whether or not 1.5m physical distancing can be maintained. This is on public roads, in open spaces, any closed spaces intended for public use or simply open to the public … in other words, bars, restaurants, cafés, hotels, just not in private spaces for a single family. cretions to the environment. The only time a mask can be taken off in such a public space is on beaches when sunbathing or swimming – and only sunbathing and swimming – and when eating and drinking: police say that their view of how this is enforced is that someone nursing a drink must wear a mask, and they will not accept someone sitting, for example, with a group of people with drinks on the table while claiming “I’m drinking” as a reason for its removal.
Smoking doesn’t count, and indeed smoking has been banned everywhere outside where a 1.5m distance can’t be maintained. It is already banned indoors, but now it must be restricted outside to a 1.5m distance from anyone else. The problem smokers will have is that they are also required in such spaces to wear a face mask at all times unless eating or drinking, so smoking is practically impossible, even if theoretically conceivable.
Exceptions for face masks exist, and as before, in article 6.2 of RD 21/2020, of June 9, these are those with certified illnesses or respiratory difficulties, those who are disabled and can’t put them on or take them off, those who are exercising in the open air, or in cases of compelling need. Having said that, this is a restrictive exemption list, and the Government actually even recommends masks in private gatherings, anywhere that people from different households meet.
As before, groups are now limited to 10, and all establishments must show marked separation distances of 1.5m as required. Nightclubs may remain open but only for clients on terraces, and always seated and without dancing. Outside terraces, in any case, have a maximum capacity restriction of 75%.
Parties of all sorts are banned: specifically, the Government says that “la celebración de verbenas y fiestas populares seguirán sin autorizarse, dada la evolución epidemiológica actual.” (popular fiestas and get-togethers or dances)
I’ll give the link to the BOC as soon as it’s published.
Updated 13 August: Following an emergency meeting called as a result of the increasing cases in the Canaries, the regional Government has now introduced the following measures:
- face masks must be worn in all public spaces
- smoking is banned in open spaces – technically it’s if 1.5m distancing can’t be observed but face masks are required at all times now except when eating or drinking so effectively smoking outside has been banned
- groups limited to a maximum of 10
- nightlife venues may only open outdoor terraces and then only to a capacity of 75% with spacing of 1.5m and with all customers required to be seated at tables and with no dancing.
Sadly, if people continue to flout measures introduced to save lives, these won’t be the only restrictions introduced or reintroduced. I’ve heard people say they can’t wait to “get back to the new normal”. What people need to do is get used to the new normal, rather than getting back to anything … and by definition a new normal is new anyway. These rules are likely to be around for a while now.
Updated 9 August: The national Government has issued a guide for those renting out Viviendas Vacacionales, or those looking after registered private residential holiday rental properties. The guide is HERE.
Updated 5 August: HERE is the published version from today’s BOC of the revised and tightened measures announced by the Canarian Government on Monday.
Updated 3 August: Following its recent announcement about meeting to revise health regulations for covid19 to deal with worrying situations relating to closed spaces, parties and family get-togethers, the Canarian Government has announced that the islands will remain the only autonomous community not to legislate for face masks to be worn at all times in public. Nonetheless, the rules have been tightened so that masks must be worn at all times in any closed spaces other than one’s home even where distancing of 1.5m is possible, and indeed, even if no-one else is there.
In addition, all establishments open to the public will be required to ensure compliance with the regulations, and to mark out 1.5m distances to help their customers visualise the space they have to leave between themselves and others. In restaurants, customers may only remove their masks for the specific purposes of eating and drinking, and they must be replaced at all other times. Not wearing a mask properly, indeed, is now sanctionable: the law is not just to wear a mask, Pérez stressed, but to wear a mask properly. This means covering the nose and mouth completely, and be properly fitted to the nose and chin so as to contain respiratory particles. The point of a mask is to protect others from ourselves, not to protect ourselves from others: the original advice remains solid, that we should not seek so much to avoid catching covid19 but act at all times as though we already had it and were trying to avoid infecting anyone else.
Numbers sharing tables or in groups have also been restricted to a maximum of ten while anyone partying outside in the street parties known as botellones will now risk a fine. Sanidad (Canarias) minister Julio Pérez said that they were very popular with young people who gather and drink out of car boots, but this is not safe behaviour and provision of alcoholic drinks in the street was banned in any case. That ban will now be enforced.
Pérez also said that a strong recommendation was that everyone meeting anyone they didn’t live with should wear masks, including in social gatherings in private spaces. The minister reminded the public that the €100 fines established in national law for not complying with the face mask requirement should be considered as a minimum because the amount could be increased if any such incident included violation of further regional pandemic measures legislated in the Canaries.
Updated 8pm, 30/7: The Canarian Government is to hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday to revise health regulations for covid19 which will deal with worrying situations relating to closed spaces, parties and family get-togethers. The move comes in the wake of national Health Secretary Illa’s comments earlier today that these were the principal drivers of infection, risking the health of all age groups and societal sectors.
Updated 30 July: Following Canarian Health Minister Blas Trujillo’s announcement yesterday that Sanidad (Canarias) has drawn up a strategic plan to deal with a resurgence of Covid19 which is now expected as a virtual certainty, Spain’s Health Secretary Salvador Illa has today said that the New Normal will require us to learn to relate to each other in a different way, controlling our circle of contacts and mixing only with a stable group of set contacts for the foreseeable future … in other words, indefinitely.
Illa was speaking before the Congressional Health Committee, at his own request, to report on the epidemiological evolution of Covid19 and the actions taken by the national Government which is setting up a strategic reserve to support the autonomous regions of Spain, each with its own Government, like the Canaries. The support will be in the form of material and products it already has possession of, and those supplies expected to arrive shortly after being procured over the past few months. The Minister said that we will have to learn to live with the virus until an effective treatment is available or a vaccine is developed, as is the case in all countries, not just Spain. Illa explained that to minimise risk while this vulnerability exists, we have to follow the three main recommendations – the 3 Ms (in Spanish): maintain (mantener) physical distancing, wash hands (manos) frequently, and wear a face mask (mascarilla) when physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.
Illa reported to the Committee that some 60% of cases reported to Central Government by the regions are asymptomatic and are being detected by testing. More than 42,000 PCRs are being performed daily on average, he explained. As we were already informed by Sanidad (Canarias) (24 July update HERE), the profile of positive cases has changed remarkably from someone elderly with underlying conditions to younger patients, often asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. This means, Illa explained, that even if they themselves are at lower risk, they are the group more likely to take risks and attend social get-togethers and parties, often without following the three Ms, and as such although the pressure on health systems is currently low it can’t be taken for granted to remain so. The health of the health service itself, he said, depends on people looking after their own health, as well as that of others.
While the idea seems widespread that tourism is a great driver of infection, it is these younger groups that are really fuelling it, as well as workplace contagion. Indeed, tourists are subject to what Illa called Case Entry Control, with strongly reinforced monitoring including telematic passenger location identification and thermographic cameras at airports since the borders were reopened. All controls applied in Spanish ports and airports are in line with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) aviation health safety protocol, the Minister emphasized, in a tone that seems clearly, at least in part, to be a response to the UK’s recent application of quarantine on those returning from Spain and the advice not to travel to any part of the country including the Canaries and Balearics.
Meanwhile, Illa said that Spain is an active contributor to the European strategy to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible and to guarantee equal access to all European countries. Spain is part of the Covid19 Inclusive Vaccine Alliance, he explained, as well as of the negotiating team for the European Union’s Advance Purchase Agreement for Vaccines against Covid19. Formed by representatives from seven countries (Spain, Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, Poland and Italy), it acts as the sole interlocutor with the different companies that are developing candidates for the new Coronavirus vaccine. In addition, the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Health hold weekly meetings to monitor the 12 research projects on vaccines being carried out in Spain, as well as progress at international level.
To conclude his appearance before the Committee, the Minister expressed his sadness and condolences for all those who had died from Covid19 and the families of its victims. He said he was full of pride for the professionals who “have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the National Health System”.
Updated 6pm, 29/7: Another video from the campaign to emphasize the need to contain the Covid19 outbreak. Again it’s in Spanish but it is such an obvious and clear message … hand hygiene, physical distancing, face masks …
— Cabildo de Tenerife (@CabildoTenerife) July 29, 2020
Updated 29 July: Canarian Health Minister Blas Trujillo has said that Sanidad (Canarias) has drawn up a strategic plan to deal with a resurgence of Covid19 which is now expected as a virtual certainty. “It’s going to come, Trujillo said, and the Canaries has to be prepared to deal with it, hence the strategic document to reorganize Sanidad regionally so that it’s ready to deal with whichever of the different scenarios of the pandemic develops. Trujillo told Parliament that the islands “are facing a challenge of such magnitude that the tremendously exceptional situation we’re in is not at all clear to make out”.
Updated 23 July: Sanidad has released the following video as part of a campaign to emphasize the need to contain the Covid19 outbreak. It’s in Spanish but it is such an obvious and clear message. Basically, it says that a simple family get-together – in the video it’s an elderly person’s birthday tea – can give you the present of 40 days in a coma … or even death. The campaign calls on everyone to enjoy their families while respecting safety distancing requirements … 1.5m can be the gift of life itself.
📣Recuerda que una simple reunión familiar puede traerte de regalo 40 días en coma o incluso la muerte.
Disfruta de los tuyos respetando las medidas de seguridad contra la #COVID19, siempre.
— Sanidad Gobcan (@SanidadGobCan) July 22, 2020
Updated 21 July: We’re nowhere near where we need to be yet, the authorities say. We can avoid another lockdown that would be socially and economically catastrophic (dramatic, in the Government’s own words) if we obey the rules.
Legally enforceable measures in place are to wear a face mask at all times in public transport or cars shared with others from a different household, and anywhere and everywhere in public where a 1.5m physical distance cannot be maintained. There are exceptions for those doing something where one cannot be worn but one must be carried to be worn when the activity has stopped, and those with certified breathing problems are wholly exempt. To be explicit for those who want to avoid wearing a mask and who seem to think they can just claim to have “breathing problems”, such exemption requires a medical certificate either from a Spanish doctor or one from a foreign doctor officially translated into Spanish confirming a prior diagnosis.
With regard to dancing, it seems that many who mock the dancing prohibition think it’s because the Government are killjoys. Generally these are the same people who don’t want to wear masks, and who think the virus is “just a mild flu”. So to be clear, it is not a mild “flu” at all, it is a SARS virus, and the death tallies around the world show it is anything but “mild”. The dancing ban is to stop people getting sweaty and breathing more heavily and so expelling perspiration or respiratory particles that could spread the virus.
In addition, Sanidad has advised everyone to “avoid the Three Cs”. These are closed spaces (or at least poorly-ventilated ones), crowds, and close contact (with anyone other than those one lives with).
Updated 18 July: The Canarian Government called recently for public responsibility in complying with safety measures and has from now started enforcing them. The main areas of enforcement will focus on catering establishments, whether bars, restaurants, or clubs. The President says that it’s this or another lockdown, and that another lockdown would be “dramatic”. Please see HERE for more details.
Updated 12 July: With tourism starting to return, I’ve had several queries from people involved in the private holiday rental sector either as owners or key holders and associated service providers as to what cleaning and disinfection requirements they have to fulfill for guests. Naturally, any touristic apartments will be let to holidaymakers through the sole agents situated in the complex itself and they will be informed by their own business advisers of what to do, but for those letting out residential property through the Vivienda Vacacional scheme HERE is last month’s Canarian legislation which contains all the cleaning and disinfection requirements for all circumstances.
Updated 3 July: Spain has introduced a digital Passenger Location Card, and this video from national Sanidad, in English, shows how to get the app to enable you to fill out the form to generate a QR code to just flash as you come through the airport here. Those who can’t do it, or face doing it, or who don’t have a smartphone, don’t need to worry because the old paper forms will still be available … no-one can enter the country now without completing this form in one way or another.
Updated 30 June: The EU has agreed a list of 15 countries whose nationals can enter member states from tomorrow. As you will remember, Spain has said that from 1 July the country’s borders will be relaxed still further, and that the countries to be admitted will be agreed throughout the EU. Those countries are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. The cases of Morocco, Algeria and China are subject to those countries reciprocally reopening their own borders with Spanish residents.
These countries were chosen on the basis of the new cases they’ve recorded over the past fortnight, their case average per 100,000 residents, stability or decrease of outbreak, and overall response including testing etc. Spain has confirmed that it will comply with the EU’s suggestion to review the list every fortnight; it may also be updated by the Council in consultation with the Commission and relevant agencies and services. Health Secretary Illa has this afternoon confirmed that although Spain’s borders were expected to open up from tomorrow, these new measures will actually be in place from 2 or 3 July.
Updated 6pm, 26/6: The Cabildo has decided, in view of the end of the estado de alarma as well as the positive evolution of the covid19 outbreak in Tenerife, to dismantle the field hospital that was set up in March in the Recinto Ferial in Santa Cruz. The hospital was intended to cover any increase of cases that could overwhelm the health sector, and so as a support to the island’s existing hospitals. Tenerife President Pedro Martín stressed his gratitude for the dedication and professionalism of all involved in the setting up and running of the installation, and for the good fortune that it was not required as feared. Let’s hope that may long continue!
Updated 4pm, 26/6: The Spanish Government has announced the reopening of the Parador hotels. Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto said that she would encourage people to take a holiday in the hotels, where national controls meant that safety and hygiene protocols had been strengthened to the maximum. The state-run luxury hotel chain is anticipating an increase in bookings as staycations are promoted for Spaniards, and indeed the chain is an amazing one, often a luxury conversion of an historic building, whether a castle or fortress, monastery or convent, or an ancient palace. In a system which has some similarities to the UK’s National Trust, the income generated is used to maintain the buildings, many of which are protected. Many are also in incredible locations, and that is certainly true with the Tenerife Parador, which might not appear the most classical of old buildings but its location in the Teide national park, in the heart of the caldera, has to be one of the most spectacular of all the Paradors!
For those who prefer their nature in a more immediate form, the Tenerife Cabildo has said that the island’s recreational areas and campsites will start reopening from tomorrow. Cabildo Councillor Isabel García said that the areas will be supervised and controlled to ensure that they are used in accordance with necessary New Normal health and safety measures, especially at weekends. The first to open, tomorrow, will be the recreational areas of Las Raíces in El Rosario, Llano de los Viejos in La Laguna, La Quebrada in Tegueste, Las Lajas in Vilaflor, La Caldera in La Orotava, Chío in Guía de Isora, and San José de los Llanos in El Tanque. These areas will be open between 10am and 5pm, but no BBQs/fires will be allowed, and there will be a maximum capacity of 10 per table. Users will also have to wear a mask whenever a 1.5m distance cannot be maintained with anyone outside of the group itself.
Camping areas to reopen will be Las Raíces in El Rosario, Las Lajas in Vilaflor, La Caldera in La Orotava, Chío in Guía de Isora and Arenas Negras in Garachico. These are for groups of no more than 20 and in each case require prior authorization from the Central de Reservas del Cabildo de Tenerife HERE. The campsites at El Lagar, Madre del Agua and Barranco de la Arena remain closed until further notice.
The Cabildo has also confirmed that half the official arts and crafts shops – Artesania de Tenerife – have now reopened. They are in Plaza de España, Santa Cruz; Casa Torrehermosa y Museo de Artesanía Iberoamericana, La Orotava; and the Casa de la Aduana, Puerto de la Cruz. Those in the south of Tenerife, in Las Vistas, Las Américas and Puerto Colón, as well as the kiosk at the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz, will open progressively once tourism is seen as becoming re-established.
Updated 26 June: I’ve had several enquiries lately about community pools now that we’re out of the estado de alarma and phase 3, and into the New Normal. Community swimming pool regulations are among the many powers which have now been restored to the Spanish regions and their autonomous Governments. We are, however, still in a health emergency, and the national Government has said it will not change that designation until a vaccine is developed or a guaranteed treatment becomes available.
Against that background, the rules will continue to be very similar for community pools to those imposed in phase 2 of the estado de alarma’s de-escalation (HERE – article 44f). Regions, however, can now establish their own regulations, and the Canarian Government published its New Normal health and safety covid-prevention measures HERE last weekend. In terms specifically of recreational pools, the regional measures are HERE, and based on THIS national Government advice for pools which forms the basis of all legislation now throughout the country.
Anyone who wants to know if their pool can open needs to check the situation in their own community to ascertain what its particular conditions are, and how the complex can comply with the regional legislation based on the national guidelines. As you will see, distancing, capacity restrictions, hygiene requirements, etc., all remain in place and are likely to be so for the foreseeable future. The only one who will be able to give confirmed and specific information about a pool in any particular community is its administrator and/or president. I hope this helps provide a bit of clarity on a situation that is clearly concerning many.
Original post 22 June: Although Spain remains in a covid19 health emergency, the country is now in the New Normal. It has been a long road to get here, but now the estado de alarma has been lifted, and Tenerife has left phase 3. Spain’s borders are partially open – until 1 July only to Schengen & EU countries including the UK, but from next month an incremental series of relaxations will see third countries able to enter.
The New Normal rules will be in place until Spain declares an end to the health emergency, which the Government has indicated will only be when a vaccine is developed or a guaranteed treatment becomes available. The main effects for us personally are:
- arrivals do not have to quarantine but must fill out a form with their personal details and where they’re staying; they must also be approved by automated temperature control and visual inspection. For the avoidance of confusion, these rules apply to all international arrivals in Spain, so naturally including the Canaries, and not to travel within Spain
- face masks must be worn at all times in public transport or cars shared with others from a different household, and anywhere in public where a 1.5m physical distance cannot be maintained (there are exceptions for those doing something where one cannot be worn but one must be carried to be worn when the activity has stopped, and those with certified breathing problems are wholly exempt)
- shops and offices including Government departments, bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums, churches etc are open – local regulations, capacity restrictions, distancing & hygiene rules will apply, and appointments may be necessary, with clear information about all conditions easily accessible on site or online
- beaches, sporting events and leisure activities resume with capacity restrictions, distancing & hygiene rules, though nightclubs & discos may only open terraces and no dancing allowed
Although acting Foreign Minister Arancha González has said that all visitors are welcome, they are naturally subject to the same rules and regulations as residents in order to ensure not only that we remain safe, but also that we minimise the risks of propagating renewed outbreaks or a second wave of covid19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is still in circulation, and as yet there is no vaccine against it nor a guaranteed treatment for it. This is why Health Emergencies Centre Director Fernando Simón has warned of the risks of travelling around, and urged us to be responsible and avoid unnecessary journeys.
We have a wonderful environment here in the Canaries. It is also a safe one. Let’s keep it that way in both respects.