Timon .:. | Tue, October 05, 2021 | 0
Gran Canaria moves to Alert Level 4 regulations for the first time, here are the changes
The Governing Council agreed at their weekly meeting on Thursday, August 5, to maintain alert levels already established for all the Canary Islands, except for Gran Canaria, which now goes from Alert Level 3 to 4. The measures for the new alert level on Gran Canaria will be applicable from 00:00 on Monday, August 9.
Regional Minister for Health, Blas Trujillo, explained in a press conference after the meeting of the Governing Council, that, after analysing the evolution of epidemiological data, that they have determined the only change in the Alert Levels this week will be to move Gran Canaria from Alert Level 3 to 4. This is the first time that Gran Canaria has been raised to the maximum Alert Level, 4, since the system was introduced at the beginning of this year.
Trujillo explained that, between July 28 and August 3, there has been a certain stabilisation in the number of cases reported in relation to the previous week in the entire Canary Islands, which has allowed the 7-day Accumulated Incidence (AI) to remain fairly steady, except on Gran Canaria and on Fuerteventura, where they have seen an increase.
The Health Minister also reported that the agreement of the Governing Council is based on the report issued by the General Directorate of Public Health, part of the Canary Islands Health Service (SCS) on August 4, Wednesday.
The report states that the situation of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on Gran Canaria has been increasing very rapidly so that currently the risk of transmission is very high. Between July 28 and August 3, a total of 2,155 new COVID-19 cases were reported, with an daily average of 308 new cases. The 7-day Accumulated Incidence (AI) rate has increased 12 points compared to the previous week and now stands at more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, although this indicator now appears to be stabilising.
This same indicator, on Gran Canaria, for people aged 65 and over is currently at very high risk, as is the 14-day AI. ICU occupancy is at high risk, going from an average occupancy of 19 beds for the week of July 21 to 27 to the current 32, along with a 32% increase in hospitalisation beds on the wards. Therefore, together with a decrease in traceability and an increase in positivity, this island is being raised to alert level 4.
What difference will it make?
The Canary Islands Government are making the change to reinforce restrictions and try to contain the spread of coronavirus, but the reality is that there are really now very few differences between levels 3 and 4. The traffic light system that was being used by the regional Health Ministry, to establish the different levels of measures for health alerts has been blurred, due to the fact that the Regional Government no longer have the tools which the Regional High Courts have judged inoperable, several of which undeniably helped curb previous waves of the pandemic, under the aegis of the National State of Emergency, which came to an end in May.
In this context, the regional government announced yesterday that by mid-month it expects to have a regulation approved that will provide a sound legal framework for the restrictions they wish to impose to face the health crisis on the Islands.
The Regional Executive announced that over the coming days they will present their objections to the most recent orders issued by the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC) which overturned the measures agreed by the Governing Council to fight the pandemic. Minister for Health, Blas Trujillo, explained that they have already requested clarifications from the court and have permission to present their objections during the month of August, despite the summer break that usually occurs in the courts.
Actualización de los niveles de alerta por islas: Nivel de alerta 1: El Hierro. Nivel de alerta 2: La Gomera, Lanzarote y La Graciosa. Nivel de alerta 3: Fuerteventura y La Palma. Nivel de alerta 4: Tenerife y Gran Canaria.
The rest of the islands remain at the same health alert levels, with which Tenerife remains at 4; Fuerteventura and La Palma, in number 3; Lanzarote and La Gomera, in the 2nd; and El Hierro, at 1.
- With Gran Canaria moving to level 4 from Monday, meetings with friends and family members who are not living together –both in public and private spaces– are limited to a maximum of four people. Despite doubts generated by the current TSJC orders regarding limits to opening hours, the hotel industry must close their doors, *to communal areas, including bars and restaurants, between 00.00 and 06.00 and nightlife, such as late night bars and clubs, will continue to remain closed.
- Maximum capacity on the terraces of restaurants, bars and cafes remains at 75% and tables can be up to six people. The interiors of the hotel establishments are limited to 50% official capacity and a maximum of four people at the tables. Groups of two maximum are allowed inside bars and indoor buffets and self-service are prohibited (except at hotels, which can be maintained, if they are assisted by a waiter).
- In no case, currently, is it be necessary to present a Covid certificate proving that you are either vaccinated, have a negative PCR or have had and recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.
- Buses are obliged to limit their capacity to a third, and bus routes with the largest number of passengers must be reinforced.
- In taxis, no more than two people can travel per row of seats, except next to the driver.
- It is still forbidden to smoke while walking on the street, except if you permanently maintain a distance of two meters from all other pedestrians.
- Visits to patients in hospitals continue to be suspended, except situations in which they are necessary at the discretion of the physician.
- Residents of nursing homes are still unable to leave the centres, but visits from their relatives are allowed.
- Shopping centres must maintain occupancy levels of less than 25% in all common areas. In addition, the use of recreational, children’s or rest areas is prohibited, unless disinfection can be guaranteed after each use. Retail capacity is also set at 25%.
- Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and cultural spaces will be able to continue operating at 55% capacity. However, public shows – whether outdoors nor indoors – may not be held in venues that are not normally intended for that purpose.
- Libraries, gyms, churches, wakes and gambling venues may not exceed one third of their capacity.
- Allowed capacity on the beaches remains at 50% and you can only be in groups of a maximum of four people.
- The regional government recommends teleworking and have applied limits to the capacity of museums and markets
- Children’s and youth camps can continue to operate, at a maximum of 20 participants and up to a capacity of 33%. Camping spaces and shelters will continue to be closed.
- Swimming pools for community use may open at a third of their licensed capacity and groups are limited to no more than two people. Covered or indoor pools, may only be used for exercise or therapeutic purposes. Spas and saunas must be closed.
So what has changed?
- Among the measures that are increased at Alert Level 4 is the total closure of playgrounds, with urban furniture for children and sports having to be put off limits. Fairground attractions that were allowed to open at half their capacity in Level 3, must now fully close.
- Numbers allowed into museums, exhibition halls, monuments and other cultural facilities are now limited to a quarter of their licensed capacity and visitors cannot be in groups of more than four. The same with the capacity of markets held in the street, which is also reduced to 33% and, in addition, sporadic markets are prohibited.
- For active tourism activities, or with a guide, no more than 12 people may participate, instead of the maximum of 20 who could take part at Level 3.
- Popular tastings, food fairs or events, both in closed and open spaces, are forbidden and even neighbourhood associations, unless they are to address issues of force majeure, have to be limited to 25% capacity.
- This is the highest level of health alert prescribed by the Government of the Canary Islands, and they recommend facilitating teleworking where ever possible and that only meetings that are absolutely essential be held in person.
Slowing the curve on the Islands
The coronavirus fifth wave appears to be gradually slowing its spread throughout the Canary Islands Archipelago, however, the number of patients who continue to be admitted to hospitals is still growing, as is the number who have serious clinical conditions requiring their immediate referral to the ICU.
On Thursday, 820 new cases of coronavirus were registered, which represents a total of 5,283 new cases throughout the archipelago this week. This figure, however, is 8% lower than last week, which it is hoped could well have been the maximum peak of this wave of the pandemic.
Over the last week Tenerife registered 2,710 new cases of coronavirus (422 yesterday), 7% less than the previous week, while Gran Canaria added 2,176 (347 yesterday), which is 6% less than during the previous seven days.The trickle of Covid related deaths was added to yesterday with two men, on the island of Tenerife.
*An addition was made to the original article regarding the closure of hotel facilities between 00:00 and 06:00, to better communicate that this referred to hotel communal spaces, bars and restaurants