Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine
The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 24-26 March 2023
Mar, 2023 |
Plum tree blossoming in Tenteniguada March 2023
It’s the last weekend of March already and Spring is here; winter is behind us and the summer weather is already hotting up on Gran Canaria. The hillsides are in full bloom, particularly up in the mountain summits; it’s Carnival Weekend in Arguineguín and the last of the carnival festivities for this year are happening around the island. With summer just around the corner, clocks Spring forward this Saturday and Sunday night when 1am becomes 2am 🕐. On the north of the island, one of the biggest seasonal trade fairs is happening, gathering produce and people from 11 municipalities, ENORTE will be celebrated in the historic Rum capital of the island, Arucas, this weekend.
Gran Canaria Weather: Temperatures of 31ºC in the shade and slight calima as we head towards a warm spring weekend
Mar, 2023 |
Its a perfect Gran Canaria springtime weekend ahead with light calima sands blowing in from the Sahara, temperatures in the shade of 31ºC, light breezes and blue skies. Remember too the clocks spring forward by an hour this weekend.
Illegal Trafficking: President of Gran Canaria “Animal Welfare” Association Investigated for Falsifying Export Certificates and Suspected Mistreatment of Animals
Mar, 2023 |
A rogue individual, living on Gran Canaria and operating an unlicensed and unregistered facility supposedly dedicated to animal welfare, has been referred by the Guardia Civil to the Canarian justice system for illegal trafficking and documentary falsification of certificates required for the safe transport of animals into the UK. The operation, she has run for nearly a decade, is suspected of collecting around a quarter of a million euros for this activity in just one 18 month period, keeping large numbers of unregistered animals in inadequate conditions, and illegally transporting animals from the island, without proper zoosanitary checks, across Europe by air, sea and land, destined for recipients in the United Kingdom.
Between January 2021 and October 2022, the investigated Association irregularly exported 482 dogs to the United Kingdom
The president of the Association falsified export certificates and presented them to the UK authorities.
Leaked documents raise further concerns about welfare in proposed Las Palmas octopus farm that would be first of its kind in the world
Mar, 2023 |
The proposal by Spanish multinational Nueva Pescanova to create the world’s first commercial octopus farm on Gran Canaria has generated a great deal of controversy. The company aims to produce one million octopuses a year for consumption worldwide, three times the number currently caught in the wild by Spanish fisheries. However, the project has been condemned by many scientists who regard the proposed method of killing the octopuses as “cruel”. Confidential documents obtained by the BBC reveal that the creatures would be killed using water as cold as -3°C, which many experts believe would result in a slow and stressful death.
Three Men Detained, without bail, for An Alleged Gang Rape, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Hotel
Mar, 2023 |
Three men were arrested and charged with sexual assault after having allegedly gang-raped a young woman in a hotel, in the Santa Catalina area of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Thursday, March 16, 2023. The woman, who is 21 years old, reported the incident at the hotel’s reception, claiming that she had been raped by the men and could not remember anything after accepting a drink from them.
Gran Canaria recorded fifth highest number of arrivals in its history during the second quarter
Gran Canaria has received nearly 700,000 foreign tourists during just the second quarter of this year, according to data collected by Spanish airport authority AENA. A total of 699,949 non-national visitors landed at Gran Canaria airport to enjoy a few days of vacation. This figure represents the fifth best on record, corresponding to the months of April, May and June, since data began being collecting in 1990.
“The tourist arrival data is good considering the scenario of economic recession in which we find ourselves and, despite the fact that we perceive the desire and willingness to travel to Gran Canaria, this makes us cautious for the immediate future, since we are returning to a period of uncertainty and last-minute reservations as a result of economic inflation and the war in Ukraine, something that fully affects the Nordic and German markets”, explained Gran Canaria’s Head of Tourism, Carlos Álamo.
“After a first few months of the year with low tourist client numbers due to uncertainty, mainly in the Nordic and German markets, since then we have maintained very similar numbers to those of 2019, a year among the most outstanding in the history of the Island” pointed out the counsellor.
“Luckily, losses among these customers are being offset by the notable increase from other markets, which are responding very well, such as the French, Austrian, Belgian, Dutch and national markets, which has allowed us to reach the fifth highest number of arrivals in the history, for these spring months. That is why we have reinforced all the campaigns and initiatives to promote these markets and we are working with even greater attention, if possible, on the British market, which is doing very well, both on other islands and on this one”.
The record tourist arrivals for April, May and June, 699,949 foreign clients, has only been surpassed by the records in the sector between 2016 and 2019. The second quarter of 2016 produced 739,811 passengers; Q2 2017 ended with 856,796, this being the highest in the series; in Spring 2018, 787,188 tourist clients arrived; and in 2019 there were 727,515 foreign arrivals, according to data from AENA.
Of this year’s totals the British market contributed 211,000 customers, while the German market approximately 110,000, both -1% in the comparison with the pre-pandemic year. The French market grew by 43% compared to 2019; the Dutch 19%; and the Italian 45%.
Regarding the forecasts, the Cabildo counsellor expressed caution regarding the number of seats offered which does present a considerable improvement compared to 2019. “We have more seats, more routes and better direct connections with the main European cities. An example is the effort made by Binter and the new routes with Gran Canaria, about which we are pleased because it is good for the island. The problem lies in the uncertainty involved in being able to fill these places, since reservations are now being made at the last minute due to economic instability,” he argued.
The annual variation in the number of air seats is expected to rise, with an estimated figure of 5.3% higher in 2022 compared to 2019, which represents a positive difference compared to 2021 of 22.6%. The total number of national and international air seats planned for the Q3 period between July and August of this year stands at 838,102 compared to 795,960 in the same season of 2019.
259,935 tourists arrived in May showing a clear recovery in the sector, reaching figures close to that of the same month in 2019, when 261,250 tourists arrived on Gran Canaria, which represents only 0.5% less than one of the years with the best arrival data in the history of the destination.
Along the same lines, already during April 2022 the tourist arrival data registered and increase over the same period of 2019, reaching a total of 356,410 tourists compared to 324,648 in the year prior to the pandemic.
The accumulated arrivals between January and May, show a good inter-annual rhythm for tourist activity on Gran Canaria, with total arrivals being only 20% lower than in January-May 2019, with 1,492,791 having been received this year and 1,866,272 in the year prior to the pandemic. The rebound in the sector reflects a recovery that has been gaining strength since the restrictions have been eased, and an increase in traveler confidence has been generated.
Gran Canaria’s southern tourism heartland announces the removal of temporary “express” terraces
Apr, 2022 | #Tourism0, Economy, Events & Leisure, Local Council, Maspalomas, News, Playa del Inglés
The southern Town Council of San Bartolomé de Tirajana has notified catering establishments who are using temporary terraces, put in place during the pandemic restrictions, on public roads, to proceed with their removal. To do this, they will have until Monday, May 2, 2022. This measure is taken based on the Government of the Canary Islands having established the end of restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The extension and installation of terraces on public roads was one of the main measures taken to help the restaurant and hotel industry, where pavements and parking areas were allowed to be occupied, but the Government of the Canary Islands decided to eliminate all restrictions associated with the pandemic, the exceptional situation has ceased to have an effect. This now implies that those businesses that obtained a provisional authorisation for the use of terraces on public roads must begin remove them.
The town hall consistory will communicate with all companies interested in maintaining their terraces, and normalising them under local ordinances, assisting them where appropriate, to be able to carry out the corresponding procedures through the Town Planning Department, so that their proposals can be assessed and approved by the municipal technical services.
With this intention, the Town Council of San Bartolomé de Tirajana wants to continue supporting a fundamental sector for the economy of the municipality and on which a large number of jobs depend.
One of the many good things to come out of the pandemic was a return en masse to open air dining in many town centres on Gran Canaria and across the islands.
Eating outside is one of the consistent joys of a climate such as ours, and it is with some hope of the community spirit it inspires that we support town halls in easing access to such arrangements for the many local businesses who will clearly benefit from being able to reclaim the streets, from just being simple thoroughfares designed around traffic to being real community hubs.
We’re all for it, as George Michael so famously sang, Let’s go outside!
#EatingOut #AlFresco #LetsGoOutside #Maspalomas #GranCanaria
Canary Islands Tourism launches an unprecedented strategy to encourage domestic travel market
The Canary Islands Regional Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, through the public company Promotur Turismo de Islas Canarias, has launched a never-before-seen strategy to encourage domestic tourism, especially focused on the accommodation sector. “We carried out an unprecedented exercise of communication and sales promotion, which we combined with a program to generate economic activity around the regulated tourist establishments of the eight islands,” explained the Regional Minister responsible for the area, Yaiza Castilla, during the presentation last Wednesday, 9 June.
The Ministry led by Yaiza Castilla have launched an ambitious campaign consisting of a communication strategy aimed at directly Canarian tourists and a series of measures to boost activity around accommodation establishments, with an investment of €16 million.
With the domestic tourism promotion, up to 50,000 Canarian residents will benefit from tourist vouchers, which will each have a balance of €200 charged to the program to promote holidays within the Archipelago until the end of this year.
According to the data from Promotur, the Canarian tourism is a market that is reactivated faster than the rest. From January to April, 76% of the demand that existed in 2019 for those same months has been recovered. In the summer of 2020, the domestic market gained a significant share and was responsible for 36% of total demand, compared to 19% in the summer of 2019. Along with peninsular tourism, which also gained a share in the accommodation demand (with Spanish tourism’s share of the pie increasing from 15% of the summer of 2019 to 25% of the summer of 2020), “Canarian tourism helped to boost tourist accommodation in the face of the loss of most of the international,” Castilla recalled.
However, the counsellor clarified that for the summer of 2021 there are slightly more optimistic forecasts for international tourism based on the latest measures adopted, such as the free movement of vaccinated people or the acceptance of antigen tests, as well as attenuation to the contagion numbers and the rate of vaccination in Europe. In any case, Castilla was cautious: “We cannot lose sight of the fact that the majority of countries and regions in our environment are promoting holidays at home for their citizens, some of them through very harsh travel restrictions and a large part through an incentive system ”.
For this reason, “we wanted to make a strong commitment to generate activity in our tourism sector promoting its economic recovery. That is our task as the Council responsible for the main economic engine of the Islands, for whose reactivation we must do everything possible, and that has also been our commitment to the employers ”, added Castilla.
The strategy consists of four parts, the first of which is a €1m communication campaign for domestic tourism, an unprecedented budget for this market. The action has been launched this week to serve as support over the coming weeks for three further initiatives to promote local tourism consumption and generate economic activity, to which €15 million will be allocated. These are a tourism voucher for accommodation, another tourism voucher for travel agencies and a stimulus line for complementary activities, budgeted a €5 million each.
“We have made an historic investment to promote Canarian tourism, with a total of €16 million and an extended execution period until December 2021, which will allow us to mobilise the internal market not only in summer, but also to tackle the re-entry into tourism normalisation, which we hope will intensify with our high season and in 2022 ”, explained Castilla.
Up to 50,000 Canarian residents will be able to access one of the two types of tourist vouchers, those for accommodation and those for travel agencies, which will be given as prepaid cards endowed with €200 that can be enjoyed until the end of the year. “These incentive mechanisms for domestic tourism consumption will ultimately benefit our companies and, therefore, their workers,” Castilla highlighted. To this initiative will be added another €5 million, for a line of incentives for complementary activities (leisure, restaurants and active tourism).
The tourist accommodation voucher will consist of a virtual or physical card that will be pre-loaded with €200 to which the resident beneficiary will have to contribute another €200 more. “We are convinced that this will be the final trigger to make the decision to travel within the Archipelago, a decision that will double the economic boost to the sector, which thanks to the participation of the Canaries will go from five to ten million euros,” said Managing Director of Promotur Turismo de Islas Canarias, José Juan Lorenzo. The formula to achieve one of these bonuses will be through a public draw before a notary, in order that all participants have the same possibilities.
During the first two weeks of July, Canarian residents over 18 years of age can register on the website www.somosafortunados.com to apply for a nominative card. The draw will be held on July 14 and a day later the list of winners will be published, at which time the voucher may begin to be used both to pay for the stay and to enjoy any other service offered by the chosen accommodation. People who obtain a voucher will be able to choose between the establishments registered in the General Tourist Registry of the Canary Islands that have adhered to this initiative and that have a POS with an assigned business number, in order for the beneficiary to use their card in a face-to-face setting.
The tourist voucher for travel agencies will be achieved through the same process, a draw before a notary public, and on the same dates. In this case, the first difference is that the card will also have a charge of €200, but the Canarian resident will not have to contribute any financial amount. This voucher must be spent in physical travel agencies, located on any of the eight islands, and must be used to contract a vacation package that involves a minimum stay of 5 days in summer season (between July and September) or a minimum stay of 3 days between October and December.
Canary Islands Tourism Minister, Yaiza Castilla, says we will need to halve our infection rates to get on the British Travel Green List
Canary Islands Tourism Minister, Yaiza Castilla, yesterday made clear that so far as she can see, in the first instance, “we will not be on the list,” when it comes to the British Travel Green List, due to be announced by UK authorities as part of their plan to reopen holiday travel. She pointed out that a reduction in the Accumulated Incidence rates of coronavirus is a first level objective for the Archipelago. She thinks we have some way to go before we will be deemed as low risk by the British, but no-one yet really knows the criteria of assessment.
All eyes are on the soon to be announced British “traffic light” system which will be used to regulate which destinations are deemed of low, medium or high risk for British travellers. Being added to the British Travel Green List would mean having a 14-day Accumulated Incidence, AI, infection rate, at a value equal to or less than 50 per hundred thousand inhabitants. These Islands, as a region, remain at above 100/1ook at present, and although our actual numbers have remained extraordinarily low, and it appears that the Canary Islands are now returning to the improvement phase, we no longer have enough time to reduce our AI as much as would be necessary in the two weeks before the British start announcing their assessments, ahead of their May 17 date of “earliest” travel.
In addition, Castilla points out that no-one really knows the full criteria for the UK evaluation process, as it is still in development, although it was leaked that as well as the accumulated AI, the number of population already vaccinated as well as the ease with which travellers can access reliable data, among others indicators, will also be considered for the final categorisation deciding which countries are put on the British Travel Green List.
British Secretary for Transport, Grant Shapps, has indicated that the regional archipelagos would be assessed separately from the rest of mainland Spain, as well as their distance from the continental territory and their ability to control arrivals and departures. But it is not currently expected that the UK will differentiate between islands, or even by province, and so the data for the entire region will affect the classification given.
Airlines, tour operators and travel agencies have already been able to communicate to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government that the reactivation of the travel sector is of key importance to Spain, as it has such a major impact on the country’s GDP and the tens of thousands of workers in the accommodation business who would be unemployed.
In any case, as Castilla pointed out, the Islands are not likely to be among the first to be green-lighted by the British Government because, they still remain focused on Spain as a whole, with regard to the assessment of the safety of the various regions. London has not yet separated their advice, though further announcements are due to be made in the next couple of weeks ahead of their reopening of international flights, expected on May 17, when the countries and areas that are to be first marked green, amber or red will be announced. There is an expectation that this list will be reviewed weekly and updated every two weeks, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Too many things stand in the way for now, with not enough deadlines between now and then to think that it can be reached on time. The Minister of Tourism stated that she will once again request a particular evaluation for these Islands from all the British public officials with whom she communicates, and will do the same from other countries that represent important source markets for the islands.
Castilla was speaking yesterday at the launch of The Canary Islands Tourist board’s new dynamic website system, designed to deliver a highly personalised website front page, different for each user, based on their recent search history and algorithms designed to deliver the most relevant content and attractions for every individual visitor to the site.
Green light for Gran Canaria expected on the UK holiday safe list along with the rest of The Canary Islands
A Green light for Gran Canaria is expected this summer after the British Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said that the travel traffic light system the UK Government will launch from May 17, to classify countries based on their current Covid and vaccination indices, will take into account the data on the islands separately from the nation of which they are part. He said he trusts that the high vaccination figures, and overall low numbers of infections, for those islands preferred by the British, such as the Canary Islands, will very likely mean they are to be classed as low risk, and so marked green, regardless of the situation on the mainland.
For the latest Canary Islands data on Covid-19, updated daily, check our Canary Islands dashboard
The British Government hopes that by middle of May, some 30 countries can be green listed, facilitating international travel, meaning that British people who choose to holiday there will not have to comply with quarantine rules, on their return.
According to Grant Shapps, the traffic light system, announced on April 9, has been specifically designed to separate data coming from the islands, which are a preferred summer destinations for the British.
This paves the way for the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Azores, Madeira and Malta to all be on the list of destinations classified as green, even though Spain and Portugal, for example, may be marked amber or red at the same time.
Shapps says that because these islands have a low prevalence of Covid19 and high percentages of vaccinated population, they will very likely be on the green list.
The news comes as a welcome ray of hope for Gran Canaria tourism businesses who have suffered a 95% drop in arrivals throughout the pandemic with many businesses struggling just to hang on for news of what we can expect to see this summer. While it is still expected to take a couple of years to return to pre 2020 numbers, there is a lot of positivity and hope that we can start to rebuild Gran Canaria tourism from the middle of May, with some commentators predicting between 20% and 50% of the pre-pandemic numbers Gran Canaria has been traditionally used to. If that is correct then the island could be looking forward to a summer surge of more than half a million tourists this summer season. With hopes for a bumper Winter season to follow.
Safe air corridorsFernando Valdés, Secretary of State for Tourism in Spain, confirmed that the opening of safe air corridors between the two countries is on the negotiations table between Spain and the United Kingdom. These corridors would make it possible to avoid quarantines, but only if the use of vaccination passports, that facilitate the return from safe trips, becomes widespread.
The United Kingdom will not announce which countries are on the green list until the beginning of May, along with information about when they expect the lifting of the current total non-essential travel ban that is in force throughout the UK until at least May 17
The British Government have suggested that the list of countries classed as green for travel may be longer than expected in principle, since vaccination programs are accelerating in practically all Mediterranean countries and all the main destinations for British tourism.
As well as the green light for Gran Canaria other destinations also expected to be on the UK Travel Green List, include Israel, Barbados, Morocco, Maldives, Seychelles, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and the British territories of Bermuda, Turks & Caicos, the Falkland Islands, in addition to the islands of Malta, Madeira, The Azores, the Balearic Islands, and all of the Canary Islands (Tenerife, La Gomera, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Graciosa, La Palma and El Hierro).
British traffic light system
The UK Government have said that they are looking at proposals to reduce the price of testing by making them VAT free and announced the restrictions that will be applied to each destination according to their risk rating:
Low Risk Green areas: When returning to the UK, tourists will only have to undergo a PCR within two days of arrival.
Medium Risk Amber areas: Travellers will have to keep to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel or in their own home. They will have to undergo a PCR test before returning to the United Kingdom, another on the second day of the quarantine and, finally, they will have the possibility of getting rid of the quarantine early if they are negative on a test carried out on the fifth day after they return.
High Risk Red areas: Travellers will need to undergo a PCR test before their return to the UK, another on the second day and another on the eighth. They must also keep to a 10-day quarantine in an approved hotel.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife continue with Level 3 Alert with a change to the curfew
Apr, 2021 | #TheCanaryCoronaVirus, #Tourism0, Government Delegate, News, Tourism
The Canary Islands Government have announced that Gran Canaria is to continue on Level 3 Alert following the Governing Council session on Thursday, reviewing prevention measures during the continuing health crisis caused by COVID-19, though they have confirmed some slight changes to some restrictions. The BOC (Official Bulletin for Canary Islands) has been published so these modifications enter into force from today, April 23 and will be in affect until at least April 29.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife continue on Level 3 restrictions for now. El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Graciosa are all on Level 2, while La Palma and La Gomera on Level 1.
For the latest Canary Islands data on Covid-19, updated daily, check our Canary Islands dashboard
What’s new in level 3 alert
Limits on freedom of movement at night change to 23:00 – 06:00, instead of starting from 22:00, as before.
Hotels and restaurants can now also close at 23:00 and the pick-up services can be provided at the premises until that same time.
GRAN CANARIA & TENERIFE STAY AT LEVEL 3 FOR NOW
You can see the published BOC in Spanish here
Islands on Alert Level 3 still maintain perimeter closures, with travel only allowed to or from those islands based on the rules restricting non-essential movement for high risk islands.
However, Government spokesman Julio Pérez announced during the press conference that vacation travel, as well as travel for other reasons between Canary islands is allowed so long as the traveller presents a negative covid diagnostic test result for active infections (PCR or Antigen) just as was permitted during Easter week. This change will take a little longer to come into force because its procedure is more complicated so hopefully we will have good news over the coming days.
Curfew limitations to freedom of movement at night.
Freedom of movement is now limited between 23:00 and 06:00 every day, except for essential activities such as the acquisition of medicines from a pharmacy; assistance getting to healthcare centres, services and establishments: assistance to veterinary care centres for urgent reasons; as well as compliance with work, professional, business, institutional or legal obligations; assistance and care for domestic animals or on livestock farms, among others.
Maximum capacity in public and private spaces.
Four people maximum, unless all are cohabitants.
Specific measures for hotels, restaurants and terraces, bars and cafes .
A maximum 50% of the authorised capacity on outdoor terraces. The use of interior spaces, and consumption inside bars is not allowed except the use of bathrooms and pick up service. Maximum occupancy per table or group of tables is 4 people outside. All establishments most be closed before 11 pm. Home delivery is allowed until midnight.
The practice of physical activity or sports is allowed in interior areas of sports facilities and centres with a maximum capacity of 33%, with masks and a safety distance of 2 meters.
Outdoor sports are allowed in groups of a maximum 4 people, including the monitor, if an interpersonal safety distance of 2 meters cannot be maintained at all times. No more than 50% capacity should be exceeded in any of the outdoor sports centres and spaces.
Hospital centres and health care centres.
Visits to and departures of residents are suspended except for necessary situations at the discretion of the physician or centre.
Public transport . The capacity remains 50% on regular urban and metropolitan land public transport.
#CGobCan El Gobierno aprueba cambios en algunas restricciones:
En nivel de alerta 3⤵️?La limitación de circulación de personas en horario nocturno pasa a ser de 23.00 a 6.00 horas?El cierre de hostelería y restauración se sitúa a las 23.00h
— Presidencia GobCan (@PresiCan) April 22, 2021
It’s official! No change to mask rules, you don’t have to wear them in the pool or while sunning yourself, as long as you maintain distance
The Canary Islands Government spokesperson, Julio Pérez, has confirmed that the Regional Community’s understanding of the national law published on Tuesday, in Spains Official State Gazette, known as the BOE, does allow each community to continue to regulate the use of masks according to their own specific circumstances. “The change in the wording of the law obliges the use of the mask, but attends to exceptions by communities, and the Canary Islands have specific guidelines,” said Pérez.
Confusion was caused on Tuesday when several tabloid publications were too quick to interpret a newly published law that appeared in Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) formalising laws that have been already in force since summer 2020. The Canary Islands President this morning urged “common sense” before meeting to confirm that there are no major changes to rules around masks
Pérez explained that at the end of the Governing Council meeting, the rules on masks in open spaces are to be maintained as indicated in the BOE published yesterday, although the exceptions for the Canary Islands are maintained, in terms of mask use on beaches, in force since last summer. The exceptions in the use of a mask, that have been in force throughout the Canary Islands until now, are maintained, that is to say, it is not necessary to wear a mask for swimming or sunbathing, as long as there is a minimum safety distance between non-co-habitants
Spokesperson, Julio Perez
“Except what is agreed by the Government of the Canary Islands, although we do not want to give a message of relaxation of the rules. It is not about having to swim with a mask, but wearing one when the guidelines demand it. On the beach you have to wear a mask, with exceptions, but maintaining the guidelines” Perez clarified.
Furthermore, the Government has agreed not to vary the current mask rules. Pérez explained today during his appearance to analyse the situation in the archipelago at the start of easter Holy Week, after the Government Council held this Thursday, will take into account the evolution of epidemiological data on the islands over recent days, the new regulations published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) and the Inter-territorial Council of Autonomous Communities a held this morning with the Ministry of Health.
The Government has agreed not to vary the current restrictions, nor to modify the current levels set for each island. Pérez confirmed the restrictions agreed last week for Easter, asking the population to be responsible for continuing to fight against the pandemic.
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
Mar, 2021 | #Tourism0, Alerts, Business, Community, Economy, Education, Government, Health, News, politics, Tourism, Transport, Transport
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.
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