Spain’s New State Of Alarm: What You Can And Can’t Do Spain News

On Sunday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared that a new state of alarm would be introduced in a bid to prevent a Coronavirus second wave.

Under the new restrictions, which came into force at midnight on Sunday, a nighttime curfew was imposed which will limit movement between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.

The new measures will apply to the whole of the country, except the Canary Islands which recently saw a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Below we highlight what you can and can’t do during the new state of alarm and answer the most common questions regarding the current restrictions.

When did the new state of alarm come into force and how long will it last?

The new decree and its measures came into force on Sunday and were originally only set to last until November 9. However, the state of alarm has since been extended for a further six-months until May 9, 2021, following a vote in Parliament on Thursday with 194 approving the motion with 53 votes against.

The PP (Popular Party) has indicated that they are willing to support an eight-week state of alarm which would end just before Christmas but no longer than this.

Ciudadanos supports the measures but feels that six months is too long.

It is important to note that the current state of alarm is not like the one which was imposed back in March. Then people were confined to their homes and only allowed to leave to go to work, seek medical attention or purchase essential items.

Under the new state of alarm, citizens can leave their homes to shop and go to work as normal, although they must follow any regional restrictions that may be imposed.

Each region will also be permitted to restrict movement in and out of their territory unless it is for essential reasons, i.e travel or to seek medical treatment. It will mean that any region could potentially close their border with a neighbouring territory if virus cases rise.

Why has the state of alarm been introduced?

In recent weeks, Spain has seen a large spike in the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has had over one million cases and over 35,000 deaths.

Much of the infections are thought to be caused by nighttime social gatherings between larger groups.

The new state of alarm and curfew seeks to address that and prevent any further escalation that could once again put a huge strain on the country’s public health service.

In a televised address on Sunday, Mr Sánchez said, "The situation we are going through is extreme. It is the most serious in the past half-century."

What is the curfew?

The nighttime curfew (Toque de Queda in Spanish) will restrict movement between 11 pm and 6 am, although this window can be moved forward or backwards by one hour by each regional government. The Valencia region’s curfew will run between 12 am and 6 am.

Are there any limits on socialising?

The state of alarm places a limit on the number of people that can meet to six. This applies to those in both private and public spaces unless they live together. Regional governments may reduce the maximum number if required.

In most cases, you can still socialise and visit bars and restaurants where applicable. However, under the new measures, most establishments will have a limit of six people per group.

Each regional authority may impose their own restrictions where required. For example, Catalonia’s regional government recently decided to close all bars and restaurants for a two week period.

What can I do and not do during the curfew?

Under the curfew, you will need a good reason to be out and about. Valid reasons include seeking medical treatment, to take care of anyone you care for or travelling to or from work.

You may also visit a petrol station during the curfew if it is essential to your travel.

What happens if I do not adhere to the new state of alarm rules?

Those who flout the rules can be hit with a penalty fine of between €600 to €600,000 but will depend on the severity of the offence.

If you need to be out and about during the curfew, make sure you can prove you need to be as to avoid any fines.

The new decree was published in the country's Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE).

Image Credit: La Moncloa