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Social gatherings will be allowed between a maximum of ten people in phase 1

The Government has announced that it will authorize meetings of up to a dozen people, respecting the safety distance, and that the terraces may open to 50% of their capacity.

Appearance of the Rambla de Guipúzcoa (Barcelona) on Saturday.
Appearance of the Rambla de Guipúzcoa (Barcelona) on Saturday. QUIQUE GARCÍA / EFE

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After almost 50 days of confinement, the government gave new details on Saturday about what the reunion with family or friends will be like. When phase 1 of the de-escalation plan is reached, meetings will be allowed between a maximum of ten people and keeping their distance, both at home and on hotel or outdoor terraces. While waiting for five orders to be published in the Official State Gazette this Sunday that will regulate the details of the start of the return to normality, social life will begin to recover timidly from next Monday on the 4th of four islands (Formentera, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa ) and on the 11th in the rest.


The Balearic Island and the Canary Islands go directly to phase 1 of the de-escalation plan on day 4. On the 11th, the territories with good evolution of the epidemic will be added: low incidence of cases and sufficient capacity to quickly diagnose and isolate the new cases of contagion to occur. With phase 1 comes the possibility of reuniting with family or friends, but without the presence of vulnerable people, with symptoms of having coronavirus or those who are in quarantine for having been in contact with a patient.

These meetings may take place in a bar or restaurant. The Government has rectified its initial intention to allow a capacity of 30% of the terraces that open in phase 1. Finally, and after the protests of the hospitality sector, which assured that with these conditions they could not open, it will be 50 %. The tables have to be placed so that there is enough distance between the clients. Outdoor markets will have a capacity of 25%. Religious celebrations can be held with a maximum of 30% occupancy.

The communities must request a week in advance the change from one phase to another of each territory, which in principle will be the provinces. Each phase will last a minimum of 14 days, which is the maximum incubation period for the virus. To determine if an area can go to the next phase, the Government will evaluate the situation with the autonomous community to which it belongs.

Civil Protection will distribute, as it did on April 13 after the end of the restriction on non-essential economic activities , six million masks at the main public transport hubs. In addition, it will deliver another seven to the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and 1.5 million to the Red Cross, Cáritas and Cermi (500,000 each), so that they distribute them among the groups they represent or serve.When the first distribution was made, there was a shortage in pharmacies and the Government considered its recommended use due to the difficulty of maintaining the safety distance in meters or buses. Now that some supermarket chains have started selling hygienic masks and surgical masks are priced in pharmacies, they will be mandatory.

Pedro Sánchez during his appearance on Saturday. On video, the Prime Minister announces that the use of masks will be mandatory from May 4. SERGIO PÉREZ / REUTERS (VIDEO: MONCLOA-QUALITY)

Sánchez gave some detail on how they are going to open some businesses from May 4 throughout Spain. Local shutters of less than 400 square meters may be raised by appointment for individual customer service, so that each worker can serve a single user. Businesses should also have a preferential schedule for those over 65 years of age, which should coincide with the time slots in which they can go for a walk, that is, between 10:00 and 12:00 and from 19:00 to 20:00.

One of the ministerial orders to be issued will authorize reforms to uninhabited housing and closed premises. Works can only be carried out if the workers do not have contact with the neighbors and an entry and exit protocol is designed at the end of the working day so that they do not coincide. The common areas of the buildings cannot be used either.

Sanitize testers

As announced a few days ago, restaurants and cafes may open for citizens to collect orders on the premises. Before they will have to have ordered them by phone, email or through an application. Commercial premises that are open to the public for order picking or to attend by appointment must have a counter, a screen or, when this is not possible, guarantee maximum protection.

The shops that resume the activity must be sanitized twice a day, once at the end of the day. If the personnel wear uniforms, they will have to wash daily and clients will not be able to use the toilets, except in essential cases. Stores that have a tester should sanitize them after each use by a customer. Workers will not be able to join if they have symptoms or are in quarantine due to contact with a sick person. Purchases will have to be made within the municipality of residence, except in small towns where the necessary product is not found.

Several people walk and run with dogs on La Concha beach on May 2.
Several people walk and run with dogs on La Concha beach on May 2. NAGORE IRAOLA / EUROPA PRESS

The Government does not rule out that in phase 1 the use of the car is increased, so the orders will include minimum safety rules. In vehicles with up to nine seats, all may be occupied, provided that all passengers reside at the same address. If not, they can only use two seats per row and will be required to wear a mask. As for public transport, it is recommended to respect the maximum distance between passengers and always leave the row behind the driver's seat empty.

Sánchez assured this Saturday that public health is making "an extraordinary effort" to do more diagnostic tests and stated that until now Spain has carried out 1.9 million tests, adding up to both the most reliable and laborious PCRs that detect active infections, such as serological antibody tests, or rapid tests, that determine that a person has been in contact with the virus. According to his data, 290,000 PCRs and 271,000 rapid tests have been carried out in the last week. "We are the fifth country in the world in tests carried out," he assured.

"Until we find the vaccine, we are going to be witnesses of outbreaks," Sánchez acknowledged when asked by journalists about the possible effect of the measures to reduce confinement in the epidemic. The objective, he added, is that they are not so intense as to put tension on the national health system and assured that "we must not let our guard down." "But you have to be aware that there will be sprouts," he reiterated.

The president also referred to the discussion on the territorial division that will mark which areas will be able to advance and move on to new phases of the de-escalation plan. Several autonomous communities have proposed that the administrative division by provinces is not operational. Sánchez affirmed that experts recommend the provinces, among other reasons because citizens do not know the limits of sanitary areas. Government sources specified that these territorial units will be provinces or islands and only in a specific and motivated case may another division meet the required requirements, including watertightness in terms of mobility.

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