Q&A: Bars, restaurants, masks and museums, how will the lockdown exit plan work?

The Catalan News guide to what you can do, where you can go, and when

A customer in a restaurant about to eat a chicory salad (by Ferran Queralt)
A customer in a restaurant about to eat a chicory salad (by Ferran Queralt) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 31, 2020 12:28 PM

On April 28, the Spanish government revealed its four-phase plan for exiting lockdown and arriving at the "new normal," potentially by the end of June.

Here Catalan News provides answers in English to questions you might have on what you can do, where you can go, and when. 

Last updated: Sunday, May 31 at 12:28 CET

What are the phases and how long do they last? 

There will be four phases: Phase 0, the preparation phase; Phase 1, the initial phase; Phase 2, the intermediate phase; and Phase 3, the advanced phase.

Phase 0 officially started on May 4, but it included some measures already in place, such as children getting out for walks, followed by adults from May 2.

Spain originally said that decisions on advancing from one phase to the next would be decided based on provinces, but eventually agreed with the Catalan executive's proposal to use health regions instead.

Catalonia has nine health regions: Alt Pirineu i Aran, Lleida, Camp de Tarragona, Terres de l'Ebre, Catalunya Central, Girona, Barcelona, Barcelona Metro Area North and Barcelona Metro Area South. 



On May 11, three regions moved to Phase 1: Alt Pirineu i Aran, Camp de Tarragona and Terres de l'Ebre. June 22 is therefore the earliest possible date that any of these regions could enter the final phase and be in the "new normal."

On June 1, Central Catalonia and Girona will join Camp de Tarragona, Alt Pirineu, and Terres de l'Ebre in Phase 2, as will the Garraf and Alt Penedès counties, which are in the southern Barcelona metropolitan health region. 

Barcelona and its metropolitan area will be entering their second week in Phase 1, while Lleida will be held back in Phase 1 for a third week due to a surge in Covid-19 cases there. 

Although Barcelona and the northern and southern metropolitan health regions will remain in Phase 1 for the week beginning on June 1, the regions will be merged, meaning that travel within them will be permitted everywhere except for the two counties in Phase 2. 

When can I go to walk or do exercise outdoors? 

Set time slots for walks and exercise are in force in Phases 0 and 1, dividing the population by age group and activity:

  • 6-10 am and 8-11 pm is for people between 14 and 70 to go for a walk or exercise
  • 10 am-12 pm and 7-8 pm is for dependent people and those over 70
  • 12-7 pm for children under 14, accompanied by an adult from their household. 

Time slots only apply in municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants.

Athletes who are members of a sports federation can practice sport anywhere in their region, twice a day within the allocated time slots from 'Phase 0.5'. Furthermore, the official gazette published on May 30 also establishes that pools in Phase 2 areas can reopen for only individual training sessions that are in keeping with health and safety measures like social distancing.

Phase 2 sees more flexibility in other aspects as well, with only the time slots for dependent people and those over 70 remaining.

In Spain's official gazette published on May 23, it was announced that group sports could take place across the country, meaning the obligation to practice exercise individually is no longer in place except for in indoor training areas like pools, although on May 30 it specified that sports centers - which must open at only 30% capacity - can have two people train together as long as there is no physical contact.

Is social distancing required? What about masks?

Social distancing is required, and face masks are compulsory on public transport as well as in public spaces for everyone over 6 years of age when 2-meter safety distances cannot be kept. 

In addition, all premises should be regularly disinfected and sanitized. 

When will restaurants and bars open?

In Phase 0 restaurants are allowed to serve takeaway food only, with no food to be consumed on the premises. Customers are allowed to collect food from eateries. This is unchanged for Phase 0.5.

During Phase 1, outside seating areas 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 will be able to sit at the same table in such terraces, and toilets of bars and restaurants will have to be disinfected at least six times per day. Restaurants will not be allowed to place communal items - e.g. salt, oil, vinegar - on tables, and menus are not recommended; signs or boards should be prioritized. 

Phase 2 allows restaurants to open their indoor seating areas. They must operate table service only, at 40% capacity (modified from the original 1/3), and with separation between customers. 

In Phase 3, indoor areas can operate at 50% capacity, while terraces can operate at 75% capacity. Standing in bars is permitted but with a distance of 1.5 m between customers. Nightclubs can open and operate at a third of their usual capacity, but dancing at the dancefloor will not be permitted. In the May 30 official gazette it was also specified that bar and restaurant bars will also allow their clients to sit at them too rather than only sit at indoor or outdoor tables.

These regulations also apply to bars and restaurants within hotels.

What about hotels and tourist accommodation?

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

Common areas can open to 1/3 capacity during Phase 2 and 1/2 capacity during Phase 3.

Bars and restaurants in hotels follow the same regulations as other bars and restaurants (see previous question).

And shops, when do they reopen?

During Phase 0, shops and businesses such as bookshops and barbers can serve individual customers by appointment only. A maximum of one customer is allowed to be served in the store per worker, with preferential hours for elderly people. In Phase 0.5 the requirement for an appointment is waived.

In general, shops can open during Phase 1 if they are under 400m2. Shops in malls and shopping centers must remain closed. An appointment is not necessary, but capacity is limited to 30% with a minimum distance of two meters between customers. Outdoor markets may open with council approval, and with restrictions. There are to be specific times especially for customers over 65. Larger establishments are allowed to open part of their premises up to a limit of 400m2.

Shopping centers and malls can open in Phase 2 with capacity limited to 40% within shops and 30% in communal areas, which are only to be used to pass through, but with no loitering allowed. Again, there are to be specific times especially for customers over 65. 

In Phase 3 permitted capacity increases to 50%, as long as a minimum distance of two meters between customers can be guaranteed, and common areas at shopping centers will be able to reopen too. 

Can I go to the hair salon?

Hair salons are classified as a shop or business, so they can open in Phase 0 by appointment only, and more generally from Phase 0.5, with safety restrictions.

When do driving schools open?

Driving schools can open from Phase 2. Spain's official gazette published on May 23 announced that theoretical and practical exams for driving licenses can resume in this phase. For classes, a minimum of two meters must be kept between students at all times. 

What about theatres, cinemas, concert venues, and museums?

From Phase 0.5 museums can open to 1/3 capacity, for visiting only, but not for other cultural activities.

From Phase 1 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). The latest official gazette specifies that outdoor shows in Phase 1 can have 200 spectators at most. 

Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums, and other similar venues can open during Phase 2, with pre-assigned seating and at 1/3 capacity. Visits to monuments and other cultural sites allowed, at 1/3 capacity. Cultural shows and events can take place with audiences of less than 50 indoors (at 1/3 capacity) and 400 outdoors (maintaining a suitable distance between people).

In Phase 3, activities that were previously allowed at 1/3 capacity can now take place at 1/2 capacity. Performing arts venues and music venues can open at 1/3 capacity. Cultural shows and events can take place with audiences of less than 80 indoors and 800 outdoors (maintaining a suitable distance between people). Theme parks can open with up to 800 people.

When will libraries open?

Libraries can open in Phase 0.5 for lending only. Reading rooms open from Phase 1, and with limited capacity.

In Phase 3, cultural activities at libraries will be able to resume, as will leisure activities for children. 

What about schools an universities?

Schools can open for administrative purposes and disinfecting from Phase 0.5. University labs can reopen to resume research.

Schools can host some optional face-to-face activities with students from Phase 2, such as tutoring 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. Groups will be limited to a maximum of 15 students.

When can I visit friends and family?

Phase 1 allows for socializing in small groups of up to 10, among healthy people with no underlying conditions (both outdoors and at home). A safety distance of 2 meters between people should always be observed.

In Phase 2 people can meet up in groups of up to 15 people, with the limit of three children per accompanying adult will no longer in place, while in Phase 3 groups of up to 20 people can get together. 

Are you allowed to go to the beach?

Going to the beach to sunbathe will be permitted from Phase 3, but strolls and individual sport or exercise (swimming, walking, running, surfing) are allowed from Phase 0.

Local authorities control the management of beaches, as on April 26 when children were allowed outside for the first time since lockdown began, and on May 8 when Barcelona council reopened its beaches to those doing exercise.

Local councils will be in charge of establishing set time slots for when who can visit the beaches, with the aim of allowing the maximum amount of people to enjoy the spaces in the safest conditions possible. Limited capacity at beaches will also apply to their car parks. 

Can I visit natural parks? 

In the official gazette published by the Spanish government, natural parks will be able to reopen to the public with a capacity limit of 20%.  

Will swimming pools open?

Recreational swimming pools can open up to 1/3 of capacity in Phase 2, 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.

The official gazette published on May 30 also states that pools in Phase 2 areas can reopen for only individual training sessions that are in keeping with health and safety measures like social distancing.

Can I go to the gym?

Phase 1 allows for individual sporting activities by appointment in sports centers, such as gyms, 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).

Can I travel to another health region?

In general, travel between health regions is not permitted until after Phase 3, except for scenarios already allowed, such as traveling to work.

Can I travel within the same health region? 

From Phase 1, people will be able to leave their town and travel throughout the health region, but not go to another region (unless for health or work reasons). 

Can I travel to my second home? 

In Phase 0 or 0.5, traveling to second homes is not allowed. In Phase 1 you can travel to a second home if it is within the same health region. 

When will my whole family be able to travel by private vehicle? 

The general rule during lockdown was that only one person could travel in a private vehicle, or one maximum per row in the vehicle (so, potentially, two or even three in 7-seater cars), but only in the activities allowed under the state of alarm. Catalan News understands that this continues the same in Phase 0, but Phase 1 states that the limitation is two people per row, except for people who live under the same roof, who could travel together with no limit.

Phase 1 also includes the possibility of two people traveling by motorbike together without mask if they live together. If they don't, they will still be able to travel together but must wear face masks or full-face helmets. 

What about taxis and VTC services? 

In Phase 1 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. 

Can I pray in a religious building or mourn? 

From Phase 0.5, religious buildings will be able to open at one-third of their capacity, with face masks recommended and the use of communal holy water fonts in churches prohibited. Outdoor mourning is allowed with a maximum of 15 people, and indoors with a maximum of 10 people. 

What about weddings and funerals?

From Phase 0.5 the limit on numbers attending wakes is 10 indoors and 15 outdoors. In Phase 2 the limit extends to 15 indoors and 25 outdoors, and for burials, the maximum attendance is 25.

In Phase 2 weddings are allowed for up to 100 people outdoors and 50 indoors.

Can I be obliged to go to work? 

In late April, Spain announced it was recommending working from home for another two months. In Phase 1, companies must allow working from home. Where this is not possible, workplaces must ensure that staff maintains 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 will be able to go to communal bathroom facilities, which will have to be disinfected six times a day.

When do professional sports leagues resume?

La Liga will be able to resume the week beginning June 8. In addition, "full training" is allowed with up to fourteen athletes.

Am I allowed to go fishing?

Recreational fishing and hunting are permitted from Phase 1.

What about congresses and conferences?

Congresses and seminars for research and innovation are allowed for up to 30 people from Phase 0.5, and up to 50 people from Phase 2. In Phase 3, groups of up to 80 people will be able to attend conferences. 

Can I visit nursing homes?

The Spanish government is leaving the management of who can visit nursing homes when in the hands of the different regions, as announced in their official gazette on May 23. Personal protective equipment will still be necessary. 

In Catalonia, care homes in Phase 2 areas are allowed visits as long as there are no Covid-19 cases among residents.

Where did you get all this information?

It was initially published by the Spanish government here, and the Spanish official gazette has subsequently been updating the information.