How does Spain plan to ease the lockdown?
After weeks of social restrictions in Europe, many countries are now looking at exit strategies and how they can gradually return to normal.
In Spain, which has been under strict lockdown since 14th March, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez just announced plans to gradually transition to normality.
In order to keep coronavirus cases under control, this would be a measured transition that would occur in four phases – and possibly within varying timeframes in different regions, provinces, or islands.
What are the four phases?
Spain’s strategy for ending the lockdown includes four phases, each lasting a minimum of two weeks. Currently, the country is in “phase zero” – which is the preparation phase. Adults and children are now allowed outside for an hour a day to exercise.
The next three phases are:
In the first phase, small businesses would be allowed to reopen – although there would be specific shopping hours for the over 65s, who are an at risk group. Hotels will reopen, but this will not include common areas.
Large shopping centres will remain closed and large social gatherings won’t be permitted. It will also be highly recommended that face masks are worn, particularly on public transport.
In phase two, restaurants will reopen fully, including for table service. In addition, schools and universities will reopen.
Events with less than 50 people in an enclosed area will be allowed, with the maximum being 400 people for an outside event.
The third and final phase – also known as the “advanced phase” – will see most social restrictions being lifted.
The Prime Minister says that restrictions in this phase will be “limited” and life will be close to normal.
How long will it take?
Spain has had one of the highest infection rates in Europe, and over 23,000 people have died. It’s one of the worst affected countries in the world.
In recent weeks, the number of deaths has been steadily declining. However, while restrictions can be lifted, leaders want to be sure there isn’t a second wave of infections.
In his speech Sanchez said the first phase will be introduced this week in the majority of Spain. And, providing there’s no resurgence in cases, this would be reviewed in a fortnight.
The Formentera Island, the Balearic Islands, and the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa, in the Canary Islands will follow at a later date.