Barcelona area to enter Phase 1 of lockdown de-escalation on Monday

Bar and restaurant terraces to reopen in Catalan capital and its metropolitan area

Dozens of people flocking to streets in Barcelona's Arc de Triomf area, on April 26, 2020 (by Mar Vila)
Dozens of people flocking to streets in Barcelona's Arc de Triomf area, on April 26, 2020 (by Mar Vila) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 22, 2020 02:20 PM

Barcelona and its metropolitan area will enter Phase 1 of the coronavirus lockdown de-escalation process from Monday, as confirmed by the Spanish government on Friday. 

The new phase will see bar terraces reopening for the first time since the state of alarm was declared in mid-March. People will also be able to travel through the health region.

The health regions of Tarragona (Camp de Tarragona), Ebre (Terres de l’Ebre) and the western Pyrenees (Alt Pirineu i Aran) will also progress to Phase 2 on the same day, after they entered Phase 1 two weeks ago, on May 11. 

In this phase, people will be allowed to exercise when they want, apart from the hours allotted to elderly and vulnerable people (10-12 am and 7-8 pm.) Cinemas and theatres are also able to reopen. 

The areas of Girona, Lleida, Central Catalonia, Alt Penedès, and Garraf will not change lockdown de-escalation phase, and will remain in Phase 1. 

Activities allowed in Phase 1

During Phase 1, the outside seating areas of bars and restaurants are allowed to open at 50% capacity (modified from the original 30%). Local councils have the power to grant more space to terraces then normal.

No more than 10 people are able to sit at the same table in such terraces, and toilets of bars and restaurants have to be disinfected at least six times per day, according to the official Spanish gazette (BOE) setting out the rules for Phase 1 published on Saturday, May 9.

Self-service elements are not allowed in bars and restaurants, and menus are not recommended; signs or boards should be prioritized. 

Hotels and tourist accommodation can open during Phase 1 at their maximum capacity, that is, all of their rooms, but with hygiene and safety measures in place and with communal areas remaining closed.

People are able to leave their town and travel throughout the health region, but not go to another region (unless for health or work reasons). That means Barcelona residents won't be allowed to travel outside the city. Traveling to second homes is allowed if it is in the same region. 

Catalan health minister Alba Vergés did say on Friday, however, that they are studying "if it's feasible" to increase mobility between the city of Barcelona and the metropolitan regions in a few weeks time, subject to how the pandemic evolves in that time. 

Vergés said her department is working with Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), mobility specialists and other experts on these plans.

Set time slots for exercise or going for a walk are still in force in municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. In Phase 1, people can go for walks in groups of up to 10 people. In Phase 2, the groups can be a maximum of 15.

Cultural shows and events can take place with audiences of less than 30 indoors (at 1/3 capacity) and 200 outdoors (maintaining a suitable distance between people).

Reading rooms in libraries can open in Phase 1, with limited capacity.

Social services offices are allowed to open.

This stage also allows for socializing in small groups of up to 10 healthy people with no underlying conditions.

Individual sporting activities by appointment in sports centers such as gyms are also permitted, as long as it does not involve physical contact or the use of changing rooms. Outdoor sports facilities can be used, but only for playing sports in which there is no contact (e.g. athletics, tennis). Recreational fishing and hunting is permitted.

For sporting activities taking place outside of sports centers, Spain's official gazette published on May 23 announced that group sports could take place across the country, meaning the obligation to practice exercise individually is no longer in place. In Phase 1, the set time slots are still in place. 

Under Phase 1, the limitation of traveling by private vehicle is two people per row, except for people who live under the same roof, who could travel together with no limit.

This phase also allows two people to travel by motorbike together without masks if they live together. If they don't, they can still travel together, but with the obligatory use of masks or full-face helmets. 

As for taxis and VTC services, sitting in the front passenger seat is still not allowed, and as for the rest of the seats, they can be full if occupants live under the same roof; otherwise, it's two per row.

Schools and universities can open for administrative tasks, with congresses and scientific seminars of up to 30 people allowed - students are not able to return to classrooms.

Companies must allow working from home. Where this is not possible, workplaces must ensure that staff maintain a safety distance between one another. Companies have to avoid crowding, by introducing shifts, limiting the use of lifts to one person at a time, and paying special attention to the beginnings and ends of shifts. No more than one person at a time can go to communal bathroom facilities, which have to be disinfected six times a day.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the planned transition to the 'new normality' sees a further loosening of lockdown restrictions, as laid out in the Official State Gazette (BOE) published by the Spanish government.

The timetable for doing individual exercise outdoors will be made more flexible. People under 70 are allowed out at any time, excluding the time slots for elderly people to go for a walk or exercise, which remain unchanged: 10am-12 noon and 7-8pm. Time slots only apply in municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants.

In Phase 2, people can go for walks in groups of a maximum of 15.

For non-professional sporting activities, Spain's official gazette published on May 23 announced that group sports could take place across the country, meaning the obligation to practice exercise individually is no longer in place.

During this phase, cinemas and theaters can open to 1/3 of capacity, as can public monuments and other cultural sites.

Cultural events can have a maximum of 400 people outdoors and 50 indoors.

Schools can begin to host some face-to-face activities with students, such as reinforcement activities, preparation for university entrance exams, and ensuring that children under the age of six can go to school if parents have to go to work and have no one to leave their children with.

Restaurants and cafes can open their indoor seating areas, with table service only and with numbers limited to 40% of capacity. Nightclubs must remain shut.

Weddings are allowed for up to 100 people outdoors and 50 indoors.

The limit on numbers attending funeral wakes is 15 indoors and 25 outdoors; for burials the maximum is 25.

Recreational swimming pools can open up to 1/3 of capacity, but changing room showers cannot be used and safety distancing must always be guaranteed. In addition, doorknobs, railings, and any other places that might be touched frequently, must be disinfected at least three times a day.

Communal areas in hotels and other tourist accommodation can open to 1/3 of capacity.

Congresses, meetings, and conferences can take place with up to fifty people attending.

Shopping centers can open. Capacity is limited to 40% capacity within shops and 30% in communal areas, which are only to be used to pass through, with no loitering allowed.

Professional sports leagues are allowed to resume, behind closed doors and without spectators. In addition, "full training" is allowed with up to fourteen athletes.