Misc 04/03/2021

Travel restrictions over Easter in Spain despite Madrid opposition

The measures will be ratified next Wednesday and establishes a 10 pm curfew and a maximum of four people per gathering

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MadridTravel between regions will not be allowed in Spain over Easter. Neither will gatherings of over four people, whether indoors or outdoors, and a 10 pm - 6 am curfew will be in force. The public health commission - a technical organism made up of Ministry of Health and regional officials - has agreed to the Spanish government's proposal, which pushed against a relaxation in restrictions despite the improvement in epidemiological data. Most regions were in favour these measures at the meeting of the Interterritorial Council of Health of Health on Wednesday, except Madrid, which believes closing borders makes no difference, as they were closed during the Christmas holidays that preceded the third wave. The region voted against the proposal.

The government's new goal, however, is to "save lives, not Easter". This is the slogan which the Health Ministry wants to use for the holidays, with the aim of avoiding a fourth wave. This Wednesday Minister Carolina Darias already used the phrase in a press conference and the Ministry of Health wants to make it the cornerstone of an awareness campaign. Thus, over Easter measures to limit mobility and social contacts will remain in force. The proposal that will be discussed next Wednesday at the Interterritorial Council for final approval includes a recommendation not to ease restrictions that were already implemented in the two weeks prior to the start of the holidays.

In terms of mobility, it has been agreed to avoid travel that is not necessary, but unlike the document leaked to Cadena SER on Wednesday evening, there is no mention of the recommendation for university students not to return home. In relation to social contact, a maximum of four people is set for gatherings in public and private spaces, both outdoors and indoors, and meetings in homes with non-cohabitants are discouraged. In addition, it has been agreed that no "mass events involving crowds" should be held and, for events in enclosed spaces, "will follow the rules of capacity and other measures according to the level of alert in each autonomous community".

The Easter measures, which are highly restrictive, contrast with the easing of restrictions announced by Catalonia. Bars and restaurants will have longer opening times (7.30 am to 5 pm) and will be able to seat six people per table. For the moment, however, these measures will only last a week, so they won't necessarily clash with the state-wide Easter restrictions.

Madrid's opposition

The agreement of the public health commission has not been unanimous as the ministry wanted. The Community of Madrid has voted against it because it does not agree with starting the curfew at 10 pm - an hour earlier than it is now in Madrid - nor with the cap of four people per social gathering. Madrid says that it should be six. Darias already warned on Wednesday of the possibility of adopting these agreements by way of a "declaration of coordinated actions", which would mean she could override opposition from regions and impose the measure. In fact, it was the formula that was used months ago to ban smoking outdoors less than two meters away from other people, as well as the mandatory lockdown of territories that exceeded certain thresholds of coronavirus incidence and hospital occupation