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Catalan government Q&A for citizens to help stop coronavirus spread

Updated answers on what's open and what's closed, when you're allowed to leave home, and what services are guaranteed, in English

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15 April 2020 11:55 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan government has published a Q&A to inform the public on how to behave in order to follow the latest instructions from the authorities to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Here's the translation into English of the version published on April 12, with some extra information so that international people can understand the instructions.

This article was updated on April 12 at 8pm.

 

Questions about leaving your home

1. What changes are there to the confinement since the Easter holiday? 

The state of alarm is still in force and, therefore, also the restrictions on moving around outside, which are limited to the very specific activities described in the questions that follow. That means trips for leisure or similar reasons and the general opening of shops and local businesses is still not permitted. However, the limitation restricting working activity to essential services has ended, as the period of retrievable pay leave affecting all employees not providing essential services is now over. The recommendations to companies and employees concerning telecommuting and reorganizing working conditions in order to reduce the need to travel to work remain in place. Those people who can not work from home and have to travel to do their jobs should keep in mind the matters dealt with in questions 50 and 107. 

2. Can I move around my town?

Mobility is limited to specific activities: buying food and essential pharmaceutical products, going to banks and insurers, commuting, returning home, caring for and looking after minors, the elderly and other particularly vulnerable people. Travel must be done alone unless accompanied by disabled people or by other justified reasons.

Traveling to the workplace is no longer limited to essential workers, as was the case between March 30 and April 10. However, the restrictions on opening shops and local retail businesses remain in place.

Currently, all municipalities in Catalonia are subject to the same restrictions.

3. Can I enter or leave Igualada, Òdena, Santa Margarida de Montbui or Vilanova del Camí?

Yes, because the specific confinement that applied to these municipalities has now been lifted. They are now subject to the same restrictions on movement and activity as the rest of Catalonia.

4. Can I enter and leave other towns?

Yes, for permitted activities (buying food or essential pharmaceutical products, commuting, returning home, healthcare for or looking after people with special needs). The Government of Catalunya is insisting that these should be kept to a minimum.

5. Is there a “mobility certificate” or official document that I need to take with me to be able to walk outside or drive around?

We have prepared a self-responsibility declaration certificate that makes it easier to prove that your trip is permitted under the restrictions of the state of alert. It is optional and not compulsory. The certificate is available on the website of the Department of the Interior. It is effective from midnight on March 23, 2020. As a complement, people whose work requires them to leave home can get a certificate from their company stating that they have to do so for their job. This is not limited to a specific format of certificate. 

6. Can I go to my second home?

That is not allowed.

7. Can I go to my second home if it is my partner's habitual residence?

Only people who normally live in that residence can go there.

8. Can I travel to change custody of children to another place, even if it is far from my own home?

It is permitted, so long as it is in the interest of the children. You must comply with court orders on custody, guardianship, visits and communication. Parents must exercise their parental authority responsibly and reach an arrangement that safeguards both the physical and mental well-being of their children, as well as the common good. You can request assistance from Catalonia’s Centre for Mediation in Private Law at (centremediacio.dj@gencat.cat).

Entering and leaving the municipalities of Igualada, Òdena, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Vilanova del Camí is now permitted and subject to the same restrictions as all other municipalities in Catalonia.

9. Can I go shopping with children if there is no one else at home?

Ask someone to bring you food or any essentials you need or buy online. If that is not possible, don’t let the children enter any shops

10. I am looking after a family member with a disability/autistic spectrum disorder who needs to go outside. Can I?

If it is essential to do so by recommendation of a medical or social professional or of the Ministry of Education, take the certificate of invalidity and/or professional recommendation with you. As well as going out with someone else, the person can go out on their own if they are capable of doing so. This exception may extend to people with other medical conditions requiring mobility. However, it must be duly justified by a health professional. 

11. Can people go out and shop?

Only for things they normally buy and avoiding crowds. The time spent inside the establishment must be kept to the minimum essential for the purchase required. The Ministry of Health recommends a distance of 1-2 metres between people.

12. What practices are recommended when shopping?

Cover your nose and mouth (with a mask or similar); use gloves when touching products; take your own bag or trolley; wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use disinfectant to clean the handles of supermarket trolleys and baskets before touching them.

13. Can I shop in establishments outside the town I live in?

Only exceptionally and with a justified reason. Things must be bought as close as possible to your home to avoid unnecessary trips and minimise your time outdoors.

However, depending on each case, going to shops farther away from your home, including those in nearby towns, is allowed when it is to go to a supermarket or similar establishment in order to do a large or single shop. However, you must go to the shops of this type that are nearest to your home.

14. Can I go and see my relative/friend/neighbour in their home?

Only in the case of vulnerable people or dependants and without physical contact, keeping a 1-2 metre distance. Also to pick up children from the homes of their parents/guardians including the shared custody regime or similar situations, and attending to the considerations outlined in question 7.

15. Can I visit my dependent relatives?

Yes, in order to ensure the care they need. Keep a distance of 1-2 metres and avoid physical contact.

16. I am a dependent. Can the person who helps me come to my home?

Yes, those visits are permitted essential services.

17. Can I take my children to the park?

No.

18. Can I leave my children with the person who normally looks after them because I need to go to work?

Yes, on the basis that it is caring for a minor.

19. Can I shop for other people who can’t do it for themselves?

Yes, although when you take them their shopping, there can be no contact and you must keep the 1-2 metre distance.

20. Can I take the bins out?

Yes.

21. Can I take my neighbour's bins out?

Yes, but without any contact and you must keep the 1-2 metre distance.

22. Why can’t I go to see my grandparents and spend the afternoon with them?

They are in a group that is very vulnerable to the virus. You should avoid contact with them. Call them often so they don't feel lonely and check whether they need anything. If necessary, take them the (basic) things they need, but without any contact and you must keep the 1-2 metre distance.

23. Can we be in the communal spaces of the building we live in? 

No, on the basis that it is a private space for public use.

24. Can I use the communal areas of my building?

Only for essential activities (e.g. hanging out the washing) and they must be carried out individually. Residents are not permitted to use them for recreational purposes, whether individually or taking turns, and this includes taking turns individually

25. Can I go out onto my private patio/balcony/terrace?

Yes, they can be used by the people who live in the home.

26. Can I take my pet out for a walk?

Each person can take their pet out alone, you must stay near your home and only take the shortest time necessary. Consult your municipality to see if limitations on time or distance are in force.

27. Can I go out to feed the street animals?

Only volunteers from organisations with the required municipal consents can do that. It must be done only as often and for as long as absolutely necessary.

28. Can I go to feed the animals that I have outside at my home?

Only for as long and in the way that is absolutely essential. You cannot walk them as a group.

29. What if my work is with farm animals or a similar situation?

It is allowed in the case of working with farm animals or similar.

30. Can I meet up with people in the street?

No. Going outside is only for the activities described, which do not include meeting up with people.

31. Can I hold private meetings at my home, association, business headquarters or similar?

No, meetings are not permitted. Furthermore, the physical meetings of sporting bodies, colleges of private law and cooperatives are expressly prohibited.

32. Can I go to the beach?

No, because it is not included in the activities that you can travel on public roads for. 

33. Can I go to the park or woods?

No, because it is not included in the activities that you can travel on public roads for. 

34. Can I go to my allotment/orchard if it is not where I normally live?

Yes, if the allotment/orchard is used to cultivate subsistence products or houses animals that require care. Tending to allotments/orchards linked to business activities is already a permitted movement. Travel to allotments/orchards must be undertaken individually. Allotments/orchards located at or close to second homes are excluded from this criteria and visiting them remains a prohibited activity.

35. What general limit is there on the number of people in private vehicles?

Only one person can be in the vehicle at any time.

36. Are there any exceptions to individual use of private vehicles?

There can only be at most one person per row of seats, with the greatest possible separation between them (sitting diagonally to each other, not one behind the other).

37. Is there a limit on the number of people in work or business vehicles?

In the case of workers in a business engaged in work, including commuting, in vehicles with up to 9 seats including the driver, it is allowed to be more than one person if they work at the same workplace or are working together. There can only be at most one person per row of seats, with the greatest possible separation between them (sitting diagonally to each other, not one behind the other). That restriction does not apply to essential services except in the food industry, where the restriction under question 97 applies. Coaches hired by companies to transport their workers must not exceed more than one-third of their capacity.

38. Are motorbikes, bicycles and scooters allowed on the road?

Yes, but only for trips that are allowed and travelling alone.

39. And in taxis and minicabs?

On your own, except if you are accompanying a disabled person, a minor or an elderly person who is not capable of travelling alone. You must use the back seats.

40. Can I go to pick up a family member from the airport, the railway station, etc.?

That is not specifically allowed as an exception to the restrictions on public travel. You are allowed to accompany disabled people, minors or other people with special needs and with a justified reason (such as the elderly).

41. Can I go out to go to sign a contract, documents?

Only for a justified reason and if it cannot be delayed. You should remember that deadlines for administrative procedures have been suspended (the periods for these procedures will not expire during this time).

42. Can we share a car to go to the doctor?

Only minors, dependants, particularly vulnerable people or for another justified reason.

43. Can delivery drivers drive about freely to carry out their work?

Yes, within the scope of their work.

44. Can I collect a package from the post office?

Yes, because postal commerce is allowed. However, you should only do so if the package is indispensable and collection cannot be postponed.

45. If we see people who are disobeying the compulsory lockdown without justified reason, can we report them?

Yes, but the overuse of 112 and police stations should be avoided. The police are acting ex officio.

46. Can the police arrest someone for being in the street?

Yes, if they are in the street and are unable to prove that they are doing so for a purpose allowed under the state of alert or they are not respecting requests by the police.

47. Can I attend vigils, services or burials if a family member or friend dies?

Vigils at any public or private facility, or private home, are prohibited regardless of the cause of death. Religious or civil funeral ceremonies are to be postponed until the state of alert is repealed. Burials, interments and cremations may be attended by a maximum of three close friends or family members, as well as a minister or equivalent religious official where appropriate. Attendees must be separated by a minimum of two metres.

If the cause of death was COVID-19, religious practices and interventions involving invasive procedures to the cadaver are prohibited.

These measures apply to all municipalities.

The Ministry of Health may establish and regulate the conditions for the provision of funeral services adapted to the situation of COVID-19.

48. I have a medical appointment. Can I go?

All non-urgent appointments are being postponed.

49. I have a physio appointment. Can I go?

All non-urgent appointments are being postponed.

50. Is public transport working?

Yes, but with changes to the service and to its occupancy depending on the type of transport and so as to avoid crowds. Check with the provider of the specific service.

The number of passengers using public transport will be limited to a third of normal capacity. Passengers must keep a distance of 1.5 meters between them at all times. Special attention must be paid to hygiene and disinfection before and after using public transport. Using surgical face masks if available, a piece of clothing, or homemade masks (disinfected daily) is advisable. 

51. Can I go to do paperwork at the town hall (fines, taxes)?

Check with the town hall whether you can do it remotely or postpone it. Deadlines for administrative procedures have been suspended (the next 15 days do not count in the periods for carrying out administrative procedures). 

52. I need to change flat and move. Can I? 

If you cannot delay it because your tenancy has expired or for similar reasons, it counts as a justified necessity. Take documentary evidence with you. Please bear in mind that the Government of Catalonia has declared a moratorium for rental payments due on residential and commercial properties belonging to the Agència d’Habitatge de Catalunya (Catalan Public Housing Agency). It has also suspended the invoicing for April 2020.

53. Can I give blood? 

Yes, in response to calls from health authorities and taking precautions. 

54. What happens if my national identity document expires at this time?

National identity documents have been extended for one year until 13 March 2021 for people over 18 whose cards expire after the entry into force of the state of alert. 

55. And what about my driving licence? 

Driving licences and consents that expire during the state of alert will automatically be extended for 60 days. 

56. Can I continue driving if the vehicle’s roadworthiness certificate (ITV) has expired? 

Yes, if the ITV expired during the state of alert. 

57. How can I prove that I am outdoors because of a compelling unavoidable reason or urgent need? 

Take with you documents that prove the compelling unavoidable reason or force majeure event so the police can check them. Only in highly exceptional circumstances. 

58. Can I attend a religious service? 

The state of alert does not recognise attending a place of worship as a valid reason for movement. To avoid putting people at risk, minimise contact and comply with the confinement order, we recommend the suspension of all public or collective activities at places of worship. Many religious communities have provided for worship by offering remote services through multiple existing platforms, media and telematic means.

 

Opening of commercial businesses or similar businesses. Can they open? 

59. Will food shops, supermarkets and similar businesses be open? 

Yes, as an essential service, food shops, including those selling pre-prepared food, may open. 

60. Will supplies to food shops and supermarkets continue? 

Yes, the distribution of food is considered an essential service and deliveries of basic products are being coordinated with the logistics platforms. 

61. Can I go to bars or restaurants? 

They are required to close. 

62. Can I go to the cinema or the theatre? 

They are required to close. 

63. Can I go to the gym or sports facilities? 

All sports centres and gyms are required to close and all sporting events have been cancelled. 

64. Are libraries/museums/civic centres open? Can I go to them? 

They are required to close. 

65. Are hotels open? 

They have been ordered to close from and including 27 March. Closure does not apply to hotels considered essential services because they are designated for exceptional use for the Covid-19 emergency by the health authorities under arrangements published in the Official Journal of Spain. Closure does not apply either to hotels where people involved in essential services are staying, to care for people with special needs (minors, the elderly, and people with disabilities or dependants) or other unavoidable reasons or necessity, solely for those people to stay in those hotels. 

66. And other travel accommodation, camp sites or caravan parks? 

You should also bear in mind that it is not permitted to travel in motorhomes —except to return home— or to stay in the countryside, except in a space specifically equipped for the purpose by the local authority. 

67. And people who are staying there long-term or for a season? 

They can continue to stay as long as their individual accommodation (not the common services) has the facilities to allow them to carry out activities of basic necessity. New guests cannot be accepted in any circumstances. 

68. Will shopping centres be open? 

They are required to close. 

69. Are shops that are not covered by the previous question allowed to open? 

Only shops selling food, drink, pharmacies, doctors, opticians and orthopaedic products, health products, newspapers and stationery, petrol stations, tobacco kiosks, telecommunication and technology equipment, pet food, online, telephone or postal shopping, dry cleaners and laundrettes. 

70. Veterinary clinics? 

They are specifically allowed to open. 

71. Hairdressers? 

Hairdressers are not allowed to open. Professional hairdressing services can be done in homes. Grooming for household pets may be provided for a justified reason. 

72. Hardware shops? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions for retail outlets. 

73. Household appliance shops? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions for retail outlets. 

74. Spare part shops? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions for retail outlets. 

75. Estate agents and similar businesses? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions. 

76. Notaries? 

Yes, but only by appointment and only to conduct urgent business. 

77. Vaping shops? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions. Tobacco shops can open.

78. Mobile phone shops? 

Yes, as a specific exception for retail outlets (technology and telecommunications equipment). 

79. Public telephones? 

No, because they are not on the list of exceptions for retail outlets. However, they may carry out business activities relating to technology and telecommunications equipment. 

80. Riding stables? 

Not to open to the public because they would be like horse-racing venues. But you can go there to look after the animals as a justified unavoidable reason.

81. Car garages? 

Yes, they may open to safeguard transport and mobility for essential services but not for the sale of goods. 

82. Roadworthiness testing (ITV) centres? 

They are required to close. 

83. Private vehicle hire businesses? 

The rules have changed such that those businesses can open for hiring private vehicles to carry on permitted activities. 

84. Business vehicle hire businesses? 

These businesses can open but only for the hiring of vehicles for business. 

85. Bookshops and kiosks?

Yes, as sellers of newspapers and stationery (therefore, only for the sale of newspapers and stationery). 

86. Can restaurants shut and make take-away meals? 

Only home delivery is allowed. 

87. Can food shops sell ready-made food? 

Only to take away, consumption on the premises is not allowed in any circumstances. 

88. Can bakeries sell drinks, including coffee? 

Only to take away, consumption on the premises is not allowed in any circumstances. 

89. Can roadworks continue? 

No, except where vital for essential services. The Government of Catalonia has suspended its public works contracts. 

90. Animal shelters? 

Yes, but the animals cannot be walked by groups of people. 

91. And municipal markets? 

Fixed location municipal markets may operate but only for those stalls selling food and drink, hygiene products, stationery, telecommunications and technological equipment and pet food. 

92. Drinks shops?

Yes. 

93. If retail shops are shut and I need a specific product, how do I get hold of it? 

Online shopping, mail order and telephone shopping are all allowed. So you can order the product by one of those ways. 

94. Is private buying and selling allowed? 

No, the state of alert only allows travel on public roads to buy food, pharmacy products and basic necessities products. 

95. Can commercial and manufacturing businesses carry on working behind closed doors? 

No, unless they are considered an essential service. 

96. Can shops that repair household appliances or similar open? 

No, because they are not considered an essential service. 

97. Can the restaurant or cafeteria in a service station or petrol station open? 

No, but the shop can sell food for consumption off the premises. 

98. Can plant nurseries open? 

Yes, only for the sale of plants that form part of the food chain. The use of private allotments/orchards for self-supply and subsistence is also permitted, as per question 33. 

99. Is logging permitted?

Yes, as a solid fuel source and to supply packaging and other similar industries. 

100. Is the sale of gas bottles permitted? 

Yes, as one of the services included in the list of essential services.

101. Are urgent repairs permitted? 

Yes, for basic services such as electricity, heating and gas, water supply and telecommunications. However, the opening of commercial premises to the public is not allowed. 

102. Are weekly street markets permitted? 

Yes, stalls selling food, drink, hygiene products and animal feed may trade, but they must comply with social distancing requirements. 

103. What measures should be enforced at weekly street markets?

Crowds must be prevented: markets must not occupy more than one-third of the designated space and establish controlled access points. Total capacity should not exceed 1,000 people. There should be two metres between neighbouring stalls and six metres between facing stalls. Customers must queue maintaining a two-metre separation between them at all times. They are not permitted to touch the products unless the vendor provides single-use gloves. 

 

Others 

104. Is there a central information phone number? 

For information 012, for symptoms 061. 112 is for emergencies only and under no circumstances can be used for information. 

105. What do I do if I receive information on my phone from my contacts? 

Compare what they are telling you with official information and data. Do not resend information from non-official sources that you haven’t checked. 

106. Have the death care services been speeded up? 

Yes, burials, incinerations and donations of corpses to science are intended to be made 24 hours after death when they do not go against the express wishes of the dead person or his or her heirs. 

107. Are there special measures for workplaces that continue to operate? 

It does not apply to workers who, because of the nature of their jobs, need to be closer, such as essential services. That exception does not apply to food distribution workers or workers in distribution centres (warehouses and logistics hubs), establishments where food is produced (farms, wholesale markets, factories making feed or food for animals, abattoirs) and the supply of goods and services for their normal operation. 

108. Will emergency response services continue? 

Yes. 

109. What is considered to be an essential service? 

Security and emergency services, health services, the prison service, social and residential services, funeral services, judicial services, notary services with a previous appointment for urgent matters only, electricity, drinking water, wastewater, water purification services, fuel, gas, telecommunications, industrial and urban waste, banks and finance, sanitary and pharmacy waste, distribution of food for humans and animals on farms and in shelters, live animals (transport and veterinary services), slaughterhouses, and designated tourist accommodation. 

110. I need to report someone: can I go to the police station to do it? 

As an essential service, police stations are opening during their normal hours. Even so, trips must be kept to a minimum: therefore, do not go to the police station unless it is for urgent and important matters.

111. Which groups are at greatest risk? 

The Health Service has stated that the groups at greatest risk are the elderly and people with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart or lung diseases or who have immune system problems. 

112. Which bin do I put used latex or nitrile gloves in? 

In the waste bin: never in the recycling bin for light packaging (yellow). In the case of a home where someone infected with COVID-19 is living or someone is in quarantine, waste should be handled in accordance with the health preventive measures published by the Health Service. 

113. Is the collection of food that would otherwise spoil permitted? 

Yes, local councils may organise the collection of food at risk of spoiling (e.g. from school canteens) to prevent wastage and assist vulnerable people through food banks or similar schemes. It may only be carried out for approved schemes, and COVID-19 prevention measures, as well as food handling safety standards, must be observed at all times.

114. Can I drink or take water from a public drinking fountain? 

It is not advisable as they are facilities that may have come into contact with hands and mouths. If you must use one, clean your hands before and after using the drinking fountain and make sure your mouth does not touch the faucet. When filling containers, they should not touch the fountain's faucet. It is recommended that local authorities turn them off and prevent access to them whenever possible. 

115. Can I leave my home if I am a victim of gender-based or domestic violence? 

Yes, in a situation of gender-based violence you are permitted to leave home to go to an emergency reception center or to report the incident at a police station or court. You can also call the Catalan Women's Institute on 900 900 120 or call the 112 emergency number. If you need advice or information while confined to home, you can also contact the email address: mossos.atenciovictimes@gencat.cat

116. Will the public be provided with face masks?

Face masks will be available at pharmacies after showing your health card (from Monday April 20). On Tuesday April 14 and Wednesday April 15, face masks will be handed out at key public transport points to people who need them who are traveling for work. It is essential to avoid large numbers of people collecting face masks at these distribution points.

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  • Image of Cerdanya hospital, in the Catalan Pyrenees, on March 13, 2020 (by Albert Lijarcio)

  • Image of Cerdanya hospital, in the Catalan Pyrenees, on March 13, 2020 (by Albert Lijarcio)

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