Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine
Jan, 2023 |
Masks will no longer be required on public transport, though they will remain necessary in healthcare establishments and services, and for workers and visitors attending healthcare and social care facilities.
Jan, 2023 |
The Mogán Local Council on Friday installed new sun beds and umbrellas on Playa de Mogán, beginning direct management of seasonal services of this popular beach, along with the other six beaches for which it now holds corresponding authorisations: Las Marañuelas, Costa Alegre, Taurito, El Cura, Aquamarina and Patalavaca. Since last summer they have also been in control of direct exploitation of Puerto Rico and El Perchel beaches. The majority of these coastal tourism enclaves were managed by private companies who held the concessions, some of which had been in place for decades.
Jan, 2023 |
Tenteniguada Almond Blossom Festival
It’s the last weekend of January and exactly two weeks to go until the 2023 Carnival season starts on Gran Canaria. This weekend will most probably be enjoyed with a drop of wet weather, Sunday being forecast as the rainiest. The southern tourist enclaves look to also see a bit of cloud cover and even a small chance of seeing a few drops of rain. However you look at it, it may be handy to have umbrellas and raincoats around during the days to come. There is even the possibility of some snow on the mountains as we head into next week.
Jan, 2023 |
More than half of all Canary Islands properties sold last year were bought by foreigners, more than half of those non-residents
Jan, 2023 |
While we still await final figures for the last quarter of 2022, the latest official data from The Canary Islands has shown foreigners are buying more homes in the Canary Islands than ever before. The number of real estate acquisitions by non-residents in the Canary Islands has risen 52% compared to the same period in 2021, and is already 16% higher than the highest ever record set in 2017.
#VoteLocal: Want to have your say? The deadline to register for next May’s local elections is January 15, 2023
Across Spain, municipal elections, to vote for your representatives in your local town hall, will be held on May 28, 2023. All EU nationals, legally resident, have the right to stand for election in their local council, and to elect the councillors whose job it will be to serve you and local interests, defend citizen rights and administrate local town hall funds to where they are most needed and useful for the the community.
Spain’s central government in Madrid, it was announced this Monday, has accepted 100% free resident travel on Canary Islands urban and interurban buses from January 1. The regionalist CC party have been negotiating with and socialist PSOE government since October culminating in an agreement to support the central Government’s 2023 budget in exchange for the 100% subsidy for passenger and freight transport, and a specific plan for La Palma.
La Alcaldesa, hoping to rise again, wants to wipe away the alleged “black cloud” for which she is still under investigation
La Alcaldesa, the still-serving Mogán mayor, currently presiding over Gran Canaria’s southwestern town hall, has been under investigation for years, for one thing or another, and arrested at least twice while working for the good people of Mogán, though currently she and her alleged co-conspirators do appear rather bullish, having once more escaped prosecution, this time on a technicality, following multiple allegations of electoral fraud, and other crimes, stemming from the Mogán local elections of 2015 and 2019. The events that took place both before and during the 2015 ballot were “prescribed”, meaning that too much time (more than 5 years) had passed to allow for prosecution under Spanish law (a time limit based on half the maximum penalty for the crime), while the investigation into the events surrounding the 2019 local elections, was provisionally dismissed, shelved for the moment, due to insufficient evidence of a crime. By no means a win, but enough to motivate a desire to try to wipe away the damage caused, as she lines herself up to stand again in 2023, this time perhaps under an alternative political banner.
Based on the continuing investigative work of Ivan Suarez, writing for CanariasAhoraImage courtesy of Mogán Town Hall, Supplemental reporting, Timon .:.
Several judicial investigations into the mayor’s activities, and other members of her team, however, continue. At a press conference, a couple of weeks back, on March 25, just one week after the case was provisionally dismissed, La Alcaldesa, Onalia Bueno, (whose party call themselves Citizens for Change – CIUCA) expressed her desire to dissipate the “black cloud” that, she said, has settled over her since she has been a politician. However, the incumbent Mogán mayoress continues, at least for the time being, to be under scrutiny. Court of Instruction 3, in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, last week presented four different lines of enquiry to the court administration offices. Each had been separated, from this wide-ranging electoral fraud investigation, to be studied independently, based on evidence gathered by the Guardia Civil, following on from their scrutiny of the suspected plot, having presented the facts uncovered after CIUCA had gained control of the town hall administration.
These four lines of inquiry respond to the four reports, issued by judicial police, which appear to implicate La Alcaldesa and which, in the opinion of investigators, may constitute various crimes (prevarication, embezzlement, bribery, illegal appointments, influence peddling, disobedience to judicial authority and infidelity in the custody of documents).
The investigating judge, Francisco Javier Ramírez de Verger, decided to break down the legal case, so as to speed up proceedings and avoid delays. “These are not related crimes, although they may be tangentially related to the investigation,” he stated in a judgement dated July 28, last year. That resolution was appealed by one of the defendants, businessman Luis Oller (Aguas de Arguineguín), whom the judicial police point to as the likely financier of the alleged vote-buying plot, and beneficiary of a mediation process that was allegedly rigged by the town council led by Bueno and her crew.
The appeal was, however, dismissed, and division of the procedures was confirmed. Last week, a Justice Administration lawyer issued official documents which have now been submitted to the offices of the San Bartolomé de Tirajana courts, which must now distribute the four cases among the various investigating courts of the judicial district, according to established norms.
One important line of investigation focuses specifically on Luis Oller, president of one of the companies that operate the main water supply service for the Mogán area (a company noted for its repeated failure to supply water safe enough for human or animal consumption, or even for cooking or brushing one’s teeth with, over recent months and years). The Guardia Civil identified Oller as the presumed financier of the alleged conspiracy which swept Bueno to power, after several cheques, drawn in his name, were discovered to have been cashed in the days running up to the 2015 Mogán Town Council elections, namely by CIUCA official Salvador Álvarez, one of Bueno’s closest collaborators in that campaign. The investigators expose, in one of their reports, Álvarez’s repeated “obstinacy” in favouring Oller “in all municipal areas” and focus their suspicions on a mediation process, ostensibly to resolve a dispute that the businessman had had with the municipal corporation for several years. That process appeared to the investigators to have been rigged, leading to two of the lawyers advising, who’d expressed their reluctance to accept the proposed agreement, even having been removed from the procedure to pay Oller public money, thought to be in return for alleged favours to and by CIUCA during the 2015 election campaign.
Another of the investigations focuses on the appointments of eight public employees to the Mogán Town Council, and then increases in their specific remunerations. According to the Guardia Civil, the mayoress allegedly granted jobs and bonuses to these public servants, some of whom are directly related to the mayor, and who likely collaborated in that same campaign for Ciuca as “vote catchers”. Some bonuses were subsequently judged in court to be “arbitrary and lacking in legitimacy” and were ordered annulled. Among the testimonies sent by Court of Instruction number 3, in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, to the offices of the court, is a statement made before the judge by one Francisco Javier Bueno, the mayor’s own cousin and a beneficiary of these improper salary increases on two occasions, as he himself acknowledged in that appearance. In a letter, explaining her abstention from the vote to allow the pay increases, due to the presence of her relative, the mayor took the opportunity to also state that this bonus was “more than deserved”.
Mencey & Bueno in Mogan just before their arrests
Judicial police have also detected signs of embezzlement and prevarication in several contracts awarded to the mayor’s current Urban Planning advisor, Raico Guerra, and his family’s company, Arpiplan, between 2015 and 2020 worth a total of €276,000 in public funds. In one of the monographic reports that have led to the opening of this case, investigators detected a “manifest intention” by the Ciuca government, to financially benefit Guerra and his entourage, who then became the sole contractors to the Town Council overseeing veterinary services during that time. The Guardia Civil has also emphasised that he was appointed urban advisor to the Council despite his “limited” technical knowledge (having only a Basic General Education) and that, two days before his appointment, the Consistory had signed a contract for External advice on urban matters with one Jesús Romera Espeja, an architect and urban planner who has held various positions under the Canarian Coalition (CC), to whom Bueno has been allying herself, among them that of Deputy Minister of Territorial Policy under Fernando Clavijo when the CC was in power, as part of the Canary Islands Regional Government.
The last line of investigation concerns events that took place in the period immediately following the arrest of Mayor Onalia Bueno, alongside her councillors Mencey Navarro (Urban Planning and First Deputy Mayor) and Tania del Pino Alonso (Councillor for Social Services), on September 17, 2020. One day earlier, the judge had authorised Guardia Civil to enter, the Mogán municipal town hall offices, in Arguineguín and Pueblo de Mogán, for the search and seizure of documents and computer files, as a result of the investigations being carried out by judicial police, on suspicion of the existence of “objective, accessible and verifiable” evidence that could corroborate the participation of members of the local corporation in actions presumed to constitute an electoral crime against the public administration, a crime against the people of Mogán.
After investigators gained access, to monitor the town hall computer systems, the mayor and the first deputy mayor subsequently ordered their head of the IT service to disconnect the investigators from the systems. This was contrary to the legal permits and court orders that had been given to the Guardia Civil during the operation, which allowed them to access, search and monitor the digital files stored there. That instruction from La Alcaldesa, is evidenced in WhastApp messages and would later be reversed by Navarro, and is the focus of a separate investigation into the administration for an alleged crime against the justice department.
Appeal against the order to provisionally dismiss the 2019 electoral fraud investigation
The order to dismiss the 2019 electoral crimes case has been appealed by one of the ten or so defendants charged and under investigation, José Monzón. He is known locally in the municipality as Pepe ‘el japonés’, and was charged, along with various others, as a result of a recording in which he can be heard telling the conservative Partido Popular (PP) ex-mayor of Mogán, Paco González, that during the 2015 electoral campaign he, El Japonés, had collaborated with CIUCA to gather 383 votes, in exchange of money and favours. “We have to play dirty,” he said in that conversation with Bueno’s predecessor, after explaining in detail the mechanics used to buy the votes that helped swing the election in her favour. González too has faced accusations of vote-buying in the past, but never on this scale.
Monzón’s defence lawyers appealed the judicial decision to dismiss the alleged 2019 electoral crimes, because, in their opinion, the dismissal should have been definitive and not just provisional. In other words, they insist that there should no longer be any possibility of reopening the 2019 case, considering it the same as the alleged 2015 crimes, which are now prescribed and can no longer be pursued. The Prosecutor’s Office continues to oppose the appeal. A shadow remains over Mogán.
The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, announced this Tuesday that the Governing Council will, “probably”, approve the lowering of Health Alert Levels this Thursday “on various islands”. Several islands will likely begin to de-escalate from their respective Covid Alert Levels after this Thursday’s Governing Council meeting. The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, made the announcement during a Canary Islands Regional Government control session of Parliament.
“There are objective reasons to invite optimism,” he stressed. “We are still in a pandemic, the curve of the sixth wave has been bent, we have less healthcare pressure, we removed restrictions last week and we will probably do so this Thursday,” he said, La Provincia.
The Covid traffic light system used in the Canary Islands currently ranks Tenerife and Gran Canaria at Alert Level 4 and Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma and Lanzarote (where La Graciosa is included epidemiologically) all remain at Level 3.
Healthcare during the sixth wave has been in a “stressful situation”The sixth wave of Covid-19 infections has significantly multiplied the number of positives and there has been a stressful situation within the healthcare system across the islands, the president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, said this Tuesday in the plenary session of the regional parliament.
Torres indicated that given the stressful situation that has occurred, both in Primary Care, and in hospital services and ICUs, temporary measures have had to be adopted.
Some measures will end as soon as the contagion curve is bent back down in the right direction, Torres pointed out, in reference to the controversies occurring at the Insular University Hospital of Gran Canaria.
Two budgetary modifications, worth €10.6 million were taken to the San Bartolomé de Tirajana Ordinary Plenary session last Friday, May 22 in order to deal with the huge backlog in payment to suppliers that have been pending since at least 2017. This last block of payments puts an end to the large debt inherited by the current quadripartite government group, who have made a total of payments over these last two years worth €28 million, to suppliers who had been chasing money for several years, and now leaving the accounts with third party suppliers up to date.
The budget modification has been made covered by the municipal surplus, and settles the pending invoices from 2017 to December 31, 2020.
Mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Conchi Narváez has stated that “the previous government group left a poisoned letter here, presuming to have a lot of money in the bank but the reality is that they left many debts with suppliers, unpaid penalties and compensation, services with expired contracts and tenders for unrealised services. It is not being easy to bring the administration up to date but we are succeeding. We have spent 2 years of hard work to get the municipality ready, I am sure that from now on we will gain agility and give citizens the services they deserve “
The press release also said that most of these expenses are due to basic services that did not have their contracts renewed in the previous term and so they have been providing services in an irregular manner, such as cleaning, beach lifeguards, general expenses without any formal tendering. An important part of the expenditure was for the department of festivities and events, corresponding to the previous mandate, since they proceeded to carry out a large part of their activity by hiring irregularly .
The current administrators in the municipality came in power and 2019 and found more than a thousand pending payment invoices, with irregular procedures dating all the way back to 2011.
Canary Islands working with Spain to better share responsibility for migrant minors, and employment rights for government workers, taking control of coastal management and planning
Ángel Víctor Torres, the President of the Canary Islands, met in Madrid this Tuesday with Spain’s Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, to conclude the process of transferring strategic competences, including coastal management, financial protection and promotion of market competition, from central State control to the Regional Executive. They also discussed the urgent need to amend the laws regarding migrant minors and employment rights for government workers.
After the meeting, the president appeared before journalists to announce “the good news” that before the summer, preferably by June, a Bilateral Canary Islands and Spanish State Cooperation Commission will be inaugurated in the Canary Islands, which will include a Commission of Transfers – where the official transfer of the responsibility for coastal management and planning will take place, thus resolving “an old demand of the Archipelago” which has been included in the new Statute of Autonomy of the Canary Islands, in force since November 6 of 2018.
The Canarian president expressed his sense of satisfaction with the transfer of powers for such a strategic issue as coastal management, which will be now be concluded, following interruption to the process due to the outbreak of the pandemic, a long sought after transfer “which is finally going to be a reality this summer,” he said.
Regarding the financial protection of local corporations in the region and to defend competition in the markets – two key competences whose transfer had already begun -, President Torres announced that protocols will be signed by the Government of Spain and the Government of the Canary Islands with the purpose of establishing the resources and means necessary to make the transfer of these powers to the Autonomous Community viable, and to resolve difficulties such as those presented, for example, by financial protection .
As part of the meetings with the Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Ángel Víctor Torres, relayed the realities of the migration crisis in the Canary Islands and, in particular, the situation with migrant minors. Torres explained that there are currently more than 2,600 migrant minors under the care of the Canary Islands Government, “something that has never occurred, not even in 2006 with the ‘crisis of the cayucos’, when [just] 500 minors arrived on the Islands despite the fact that more people reached the coast than during the current crisis ”.
It is the president’s view that it will be necessary to adapt the current legislative framework to the existing situation, since the law for the protection of minors was created to provide care for minors registered in each autonomous community, and not for minors who arrive irregularly “in such great volume “, the president said. Torres explained that the minister has promised to study a legislative amendment and activate formulas that will help to ensure that the migratory reality is shared with the other autonomous communities of Spain.
Modification of the Basic Statute for Public Employees
The Presidency of the Government of the Canary Islands and the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function also addressed the problem of temporary employees within the Public Administrations who in many cases must chain temporary employment contracts for many years at a time. Torres raised the need to seek consensus mechanisms that respond to the expectations of workers who are in this situation.
In this sense, Torres stressed that the minister has committed to carry out, in the coming months, a modification in the Basic Statute of the Employee, which is being worked on also with the autonomous communities.
Finally, Ángel Víctor Torres thanked Miquel Iceta and his team for holding the meeting – the first held by the Minister of Territorial Policy with a president of the autonomous community – which “has been very satisfactory,” he concluded.
The British Embassy in Madrid have forwarded an update for UK Nationals as a reminder of the requirements for living as an immigrant in Spain
An update for UK Nationals from The British Embassy in Madrid
From 1 January, UK Nationals have been able to spend 90 days out of every 180 within the Schengen area for tourism or other specific purposes, such as business meetings, without needing a visa. Any stays beyond the 90 days will be dependent on Spain’s visa and immigration rules and any UK Nationals who would like to discuss extending their stay should contact their local extranjería office or call 060.
All foreign nationals intending to stay in Spain for longer than three months have always been obliged to register for residency – whatever their nationality. Therefore if you arrived in Spain before 1 January you must take steps to become resident if you consider your home to be here. Otherwise, you should be arranging to return to the UK. If you are trying to become resident and are in the process of registering or appealing against your application having been rejected, the 90-day rule does not apply to you.
Living and working in Spain – Your Essential Guide for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
Brits in Spain:
Living and working in Spain – Your Essential Guide for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The British Embassy in Madrid have produced a series of short guides to advise UK nationals who were legally living in Spain before 1 January 2021, what their rights in Spain are.
Here is their key information for living and working in Spain. On Friday there will be a guide for issues related to Travel and Pet Passports.
The links at the end of this video are:
1. Living in Spain guide: www.gov.uk/livinginpain
2. The document to show the validity of the green certificate: https://www.inclusion.gob.es/ficheros/brexit/nota_aclaratoria_green_certificate.pdf
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, April 1, 2021
HMA Hugh Elliott said:
“I’m aware that many second home owners are concerned about overstaying as we reach 31 March. The Spanish Government has been clear that it will take a pragmatic approach to anyone who is stuck in Spain due to circumstances beyond their control, so I don’t want people to be overly worried on that count. However, if people do not intend to become resident here in Spain and see the UK as their base, we do expect them to take steps to return to the UK as soon as they can.”
A Spanish Ministry of Inclusion spokesperson said “The Spanish Government is working to provide maximum legal certainty for British citizens resident in Spain. Throughout the negotiations, the issue of citizens’ rights has been, and remains, one of the main priorities. Spain is the country of residence of the largest community of UK nationals in the EU.
“The Spanish Government has no plans to deport British citizens who have made Spain their home and, for this reason, Spain has been one of the first EU countries to establish a documentation procedure under the Withdrawal Agreement, which consists of a declaratory system to apply for the new residence permit (TIE). We remind British citizens that, although there is no time limit, it is important to make this application as soon as possible as, among other things, it will facilitate the administrative processing and the crossing of the external borders of the European Union.”
If you are in the UK and considering travelling to Spain or are in Spain and have friends or family wanting to visit, you should be aware of the continuing travel restrictions on both leaving the UK and entering Spain. UK Nationals must make sure that they meet both the requirements to leave the UK and those to enter Spain, bearing in mind that they are not the same. From 30 March, entry to Spain will only be granted to those passengers who can demonstrate that their journey is essential, as well as to those who are already legally resident in Spain. Entering merely to visit, even if you have a second home here, is not a justified reason for entry. You may be questioned on arrival by Spanish border authorities to ensure you meet the entry requirements and they will only grant entry if they are satisfied that your journey to Spain is essential and reserve the right to deny passage. Ultimately, the decision on whether to grant entry into Spain is made by Spanish border officials as set out in our Travel Advice. For the latest information and links to the restrictions on leaving the UK and entering Spain, the British Embassy in Madrid advise people to visit the Travel Advice page on gov.uk and sign up for alerts, so that they are notified of any changes: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
*Reminder: Our next Q&A will be next Thursday 8 April at 18:00 CET*
It will be streamed live from this page, and will…
Posted by Brits in Spain on Thursday, April 1, 2021
Here are some extra notes to remember:
Since 1 January 2021, British tourists have been able to travel visa-free for tourism or other specific purposes across the Schengen Area (except for Covid-19 restrictions) for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. Anyone wishing to extend their stay, or become a worker or permanent resident will need to apply to the local authorities under Spain’s domestic immigration rules.
If you are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of your visa/permit or visa-free limit due to C-19 restrictions, you should contact your local immigration office (Extranjería) for advice. You can also call 060 from a Spanish phone line.
Due to Covid-19, restrictions on entry from the UK into Spain have been in place since January 2021. Only Spanish nationals, UK nationals resident in Spain and other limited categories of entry are permitted. Please see FCDO Travel Advice for Spain for further details: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
UK nationals and their family members who were lawfully resident in Spain before the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020, can continue to live, work, study and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, broadly as they did before the UK left the EU.
Their rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, whether or not they have registered for residency. Anyone who has not yet done so, should register for residency and apply for a TIE card which can be used to evidence their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Previous versions of this document (also known as the ‘green residency document’) remain valid. More than 360,000 UK nationals in Spain have already registered.
The procedure for applying the resident document, which has been in place since 6 July 2020, distinguishes between those who already had a registration certificate or family member card of an EU citizen, and those who did not.
Those arriving after the transitional period, i.e. from 1 January 2021, will fall under the general immigration regulations. For more information visit:http://extranjeros.inclusion.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/index.html
The UK Government provides detailed advice for UK nationals in our Living in Spain Guide online at: www.gov.uk/livinginspain; and the Spanish Government has also produced a detailed Q+A document on residency in English: https://www.inclusion.gob.es/ficheros/brexit/guia_brexit_2020_en.pdf
Some more useful information:
Living in Spain: Healthcare
Brits in Spain:
Healthcare: Your Essential Guide – UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The British Embassy in Madrid have produced a series of short videos to advise UK nationals who were legally living in Spain before 1 January 2021, what their rights in Spain are.
This one takes a look at Healthcare. There is also a video on Living and Working in Spain and on Friday they will share their guide to Travel and Pet Passports for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The link at the end of this video is: www.gov.uk/healthcareinspain
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, April 1, 2021
The Canary News
What you need to know: Spain’s newly finalised Law of The New Normality is causing confusion about having to wear a mask even when sunbathing
For many, particularly in The Canary Islands, it was a bit of a bombshell to learn that Spain’s finalised Law of The New Normality, announced on Tuesday, will mean having to wear a mask everywhere, even when lying sunbathing on the beach or at the pool. The legislation comes into force throughout Spain this Wednesday, just ahead of the main four-day easter weekend. The latest Official State Gazette (BOE) tightens mandatory regulations for the use of face masks and makes very clear: it must always be worn, regardless of interpersonal distance, both outdoors and indoors, whether in public or private. And so, many are reporting that also includes places like the beach.
The simple fact is that not only have these laws been in the legislative pipeline for many months, and so are not new at all, but the BOE itself does not mention beaches, or swimming pools, nor does it announce any major changes to how these rules are interpreted. There will be further clarifications over the coming hours and days, but in the first instance this law should be seen as an extension to the measures already announced, and not a change of legislation.
Most of the newly published law, however, is really no different from the rules that have been in place since last June, when the so-called lockdown confinement was de-escalated with a decree law to end the first State of Emergency.
Despite the fact that here in the Canary Islands, until now, we have been able to follow our own regional regulation of these spaces, Spanish state standards supersede regional directives. This now means that the only exception to the use of masks, that had been allowed here on the Islands when lying down to sunbathe and so long as a safety distance of two meters was maintain, is now potentially ruled out, at least for the immediate and foreseeable future.
Spain’s central government will study whether it is necessary to “qualify” the newly published rules in a meeting this Wednesday
Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published the new provisions, in a revision and clarification of the previous New Normality rules, in an attempt to further contain the coronavirus, in the face of what some health experts fear could be a European fourth wave of infection. Spain’s central government, however, will study whether it is necessary to “qualify” the newly published rules, at some point, in a meeting that will be held this Wednesday, together with the leaders of all 17 regional autonomous communities.
The Not-So-New Normality
This law has been a long time coming, it was not really a surprise
The New Normality measures announced, however, are not, strictly speaking, new. As far back as last summer most of these stipulations were written into the laws being discussed in the Spanish legislature, however the administrative process to pass these measures into law takes many months, and so during the interim time it was left to regional authorities to implement, as promptly as possible, the basic tenets contemplated. This is, in essence, what has allowed for leeway in how to implement these measures on a regional basis. Now that the measures have passed into Spanish law, all regions are expected to confirm with the wording of that law, and any changes requested, will likely take time to enact.
Don’t Panic! This pandemic is still far from over.
All in all, the new law has been expected for many months, though most had contemplated the published legislation would try to take account of how the measures were actually working in practice, so for some this is seen as an oversight by central government, for others however, concerned about rising infections, and with one of the main national annual holiday weekends looming, this is being seen as a well timed reminder that this pandemic is far from over, and a necessary control measure to help ensure that healthcare services do not become overwhelmed, just as vaccine rollouts have finally begun to offer hope to millions of citizens eager to eventually overcome the devastating affect of more than a year of public health crisis and the subsequent economic collapse that is being experienced all across the world.
“Law 2/2021, of March 29, on urgent prevention, containment and coordination measures to face the health crisis caused by Covid-19” (“Ley 2/2021, de 29 de marzo, de medidas urgentes de prevención, contención y coordinación para hacer frente a la crisis sanitaria ocasionada por la COVID-19“) is a compendium of de-escalation measures that were already agreed back in June 2020, on the basis that the first decree of the state of alarm that the Government had approved has expired.
The New Normality Law
Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published the Draft Law, known as The Law of The ‘New Normality’, which was approved on March 18 in the Congress of Deputies. Among the measures contemplated in the text, which enters into force this Wednesday will remain “until the pandemic ends”. In any case, masks will not be required for people who can verify that they have some type of illness or respiratory difficulty that may be aggravated using the mask or who, due to disability or dependency, would not be able to remove the mask on their own, or who present behavioural issues that make the use of masks unviable or counterproductive.
With the newly published New Normality law, the requirement to wear a mask in outdoor spaces is now applicable to all communities, which can no longer regulate their own exceptions or graduate how the law is applied.
The New Normality articles published yesterday clearly states: “People of six years of age and older are obliged to use masks (…) on public roads, in outdoor spaces and in any closed space for public use or that is open to the public”. This implies, for example, parks, beaches or swimming pools. Also when using “air, maritime, bus, or rail transport”, as well as in “complementary public and private transport of passengers in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, if the occupants of the tourism vehicles they do not live at the same address”.
When travelling by sea, passengers on ships and boats, it will not have to wear masks when they are in their own cabin.
What else does this New Normality law say?
All in all this law is simply finalising the text of the rules that have already been in place since summer 2020, clarifying some of the points of contention to follow the best advice given to the Government of Spain, and regulates the application of those rules throughout all Spanish territories.
The law now states that sale of single surgical masks, not individually packaged, can only be carried out in pharmacies, guaranteeing adequate hygiene conditions that safeguard the quality of the product.
Sports, exceptions and health issues:
Current exceptions to the use of masks have been preserved in the new wording: individual outdoor sport and people who have disease or respiratory difficulty, aggravated by the use of masks or who, due to their situation of disability or dependency, would not be able to take it off on their own.
Force majeure or situations of necessity are included as an exception or when, due to the very nature of the activities, the use of the mask is not compatible, as already stated in previous legislation.
Going to work
People who present symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or are in home isolation should not go to their workplace. If a worker begins to have COVID-19 compatible symptoms, they must immediately contact the telephone number set up by their autonomous community or health centre, and they must put on a mask and “follow the recommendations indicated, until their situation is assessed by a healthcare professional.”
Business owners, or the directors of the centres and other entities, must guarantee adequate ventilation and disinfection measures, and have water and soap or hydro-alcoholic gels available at all times for cleaning workers’ hands. Likewise, everyone must adapt working conditions to maintain an interpersonal safety distance of a minimum 1.5 metres (or adequate protective equipment, if that is not possible) and organise work schedules to avoid overcrowding.
Finally, business owners must “adopt measures for the progressive reincorporation in person to the jobs and the promotion of the use of telework when it is possible due to the nature of the work activity”.
No change for shops, hotels and shows
The competent administrations must ensure compliance by the owners of hotels, shops or cultural shows with the regulations for capacity, disinfection, prevention and conditioning that are determined.
They will have to ensure the necessary measures to guarantee a minimum interpersonal distance of 1.5 meters and avoid crowds.
Schools without crowds
Conditions must be guaranteed so that there is no crowding and that both students and workers can comply with “the indications of distance or limitation of contacts, as well as personal prevention measures.”
The competent administrations must ensure the sufficient availability of health professionals with the capacity to reorganise them according to priorities at all times. They must guarantee of a sufficient number of professionals for the prevention and control of the disease, its early diagnosis, attention to cases and epidemiological surveillance.
La ley de “nueva normalidad” [The Law of The New Normal] https://t.co/Kq7YZaY7up
— Miki&Duarte (@MikiyDuarte) March 31, 2021
During the New Normality legislative final debate in Congress, the Lower House of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes, the Health Minister, Carolina Darias, stressed that this law will “allow progress in the control of the pandemic and also in functions of surveillance, inspection and control of cases.”
“This rule will be central to the management of the pandemic until it’s end. It includes a good part of the commitment acquired during the management of this painful crisis. It is called to be a source of knowledge for those who have to make similar decisions in the future”, said the minister in defence of the move.
Guillermo Díaz, from the Ciudadanos party, used the opportunity to highlight the incorporation of an amendment from his party for the suspension of the medical inspection visa for the prescription of triple therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), throughout the pandemic. “It will avoid bureaucratic treatments to access the best of treatments,” he celebrated. Keeping in tune with the Minister of Health, Díaz defended the need for this law: “We cannot face a pandemic again with royal decrees, except to qualify a rule that already exists.” In any case, he demanded that the Executive “propose to establish legislation that allows a better response to a situation like this in the future.”
Laura Márquez, from Unidos Podemos, part of Spain’s governing coalition, said she was also satisfied with the incorporation into the legislative text of an extension to research contracts during the pandemic, but insisted that those working to combat the pandemic should have proper work full time contracts saying “it is necessary to address the problem of temporality in scientific research.”
“Even people who are researching vaccines in our country have temporary contracts. We must guarantee the stability of our scientists, really, without cheating or cardboard [cutouts],” she added.
The opposition PP deputy Ana Pastor, herself a former Minister of Health, said that she regretted that the New Normality document does not incorporate any of the 45 amendments presented by her main opposition group. “Never before has the parliament been so ignored as in this legislature.” she said. “Decrees have become the norm, as has happened with this one. They have not accepted any of the 45 amendments from my party. Do you not realise that this decree arrives just as it [was originally suggested], that it has only incorporated five amendments?”, she pointed out by way of example. Pastor criticised that the Government, saying that this law, “has been unable to incorporate what the health system urgently needs.” She demanded to know “Why have they not supported our amendments?”
PSOE’s deputy Carmen Andrés Añón replied that the PP amendments were “very far” from the “nature” of the guidelines, since “they intended an exhaustive regulation of all foreseeable possible and impossible situations, and in this way would handicap the Inter-territorial Council in its decision-making “.
“In addition,” she said “they raised a clear conflict of powers with the autonomous communities. They were very far from the Constitution and the spirit of the law,” she concluded.
The Canary News