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On Monday 11th May, Xàbia will be entering Phase 1 of the Government's plan for the gradual reduction of the extraordinary measures which restricted movement and social contact after the Ministry of Health confirmed which provinces and territories had met the criteria set out to do so. The town comes under the jurisdiction of the health department of Dénia (which covers the Marina Alta region) which has satisfied the requirements along with just nine other departments of the 24 in the Comunidad Valenciana.

The announcement was made on the evening of Friday 8th May whilst the appropriate 'Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE)' - the Official State Gazette - detailing the fine details of the transition to Phase 1 was published this morning Saturday 9th May, a 29-page document consisting of 14 chapters and 47 separate articles. Thus, we have spent this morning translating and digesting the contents to discover what our next phase of 'new normal' will be, starting from Monday. Please note that this is a brief summary of what we understand to be the main points of the document. There is a link at the bottom of the page to access the document directly for more specific information.

Perhaps the part that will be of most interest is the second chapter which details the relaxation of social measures, including the freedom of movement. Article 7 confirms that people may move around the same territorial area (i.e. we can move around the Marina Alta region) but always observing the necessary safety and hygiene measures such as the two-metre social distancing rule, hand hygiene and, if social distancing is not possible, the use of 'respiratory etiquette' such as coughing or sneezing into a handkerchief or the elbow.. A maximum  of up to ten people can meet together, except in the case of those who live together, and people can move between neighbouring territories in the same phase for socio-economic activities. You can move to another territorial zone which is in the same phase but only for work, looking after a minor or the elderly, or other similar reasons.

Shops with a floor space less than 400 square metres can open except those in shopping centres without direct and independent access from the outside. The capacity will be limited to 30% and a minimum distance of two metres between customers must be maintained. Priority should be given to those over the age of 65. Samples such as cosmetics, perfumes, etc. cannot be used whilst clothes that are tried on and not subsequently purchased must be properly sanitized before being offered for sale again; this also applies to returns. Car dealerships, ITV stations and garden centres can re-open but only by appointment, regardless of their floor space. Strict cleaning and disinfection procedures must be followed by all businesses at least twice a day, one of which should be at the end of trading. Toilets on premises cannot be used by customers except in cases of emergency.

At the discretion of the local council, outdoor markets can re-open for food and staple products which cannot by touched by customers. Councils should establish the necessary requirements to open, such as distancing between market stalls and limits of capacity to guarantee safety between stall holders and customers.

Open-air terraces of hotels and restaurants can re-open to the public up to a maximum of 50% of the capacity which was set in the corresponding municipal licence of the previous year. An open terrace is an uncovered space that is surrounded by a maximum of two walls or partitions. A distance of at least two metres must be maintained between tables and if the premises has received local authority permission to increase the surface area of its terrace, it must maintain the 50% limit. Maximum occupancy of a table or group of tables is ten people so long as the table or groups of tables maintains the minimum social distancing requirement. Proper cleaning and disinfection of tables and chairs, etc. must be carried out between customers and authorised hand sanitising gel or disinfectants must be made available. Menus should be replaced by blackboards, posters or other means whilst napkin dispensers, toothpicks, cruet sets, etc. must not be used and replaced by single use disposable items. Toilets can be used but only by one person at a time, except for those who need assistance, and must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Hotels and tourist accommodation can re-open but common areas must remain closed other than open-air terraces, the details for which have been covered briefly above. Swimming pools, spas, gyms, mini-clubs, children's areas, discos, event rooms and similar spaces that are not essential for the use of the hotel or accommodation must remain closed and should be clearly identified as being so.

Churches and other places of worship can open but must ensure that attendance doesn't exceed a third of its normal capacity, entrances and exits are arranged to avoid the grouping of people and avoid the use of holy or blessed water (ritual ablutions should be done at home). The gatherings should be limited to the shortest time possible and personal contact, the distribution of any objects, books or brochures, and the touching or kissing of devotional objects must be avoided.

Libraries and museums can re-open, subject to conditions on access, capacity and proper cleaning protocols, whilst indoor theatres and other cultural centres can open up to a maximum of 30% of capacity with certain conditions on social distancing and staggered arrival and departure procedures. Complementary services such as shops, cafeterias and cloakrooms cannot be used. Up to 200 people can gather for outdoor performances, so long as the required protective measures and social distancing are respected.

Outdoor sports facilities (those that lack a roof and walls) can be used with prior scheduled appointment except swimming pools and other water zones. Individual sports or those played by a maximum of two people without physical contact and maintaining social distancing can be played. There will be a limit of 30% of normal capacity in each facility and an access system must be enabled that prevents the gathering of people. The facilities should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, including common areas, and especially at the end of the day.

Public and private sports facilities such as gyms can open but only for offering individual sporting activities and by scheduled appointment only. There will be a one trainer per visitor maximum ratio and the maximum capacity of 30% must be respected along with the two-metre social distancing requirement. Locker rooms and shower areas must remain closed whilst auxiliary spaces can be occupied by a maximum of one person at a time, except those who require assistance. All facilities must be cleaned and disinfected after each use as well as at the end of the day.

Active and nature tourism is now permitted for groups up to a maximum of ten people and by companies registered as active tourism companies. Protective measures and social distancing must be guaranteed and authorised hand sanitising gel or disinfectant must be made available to all.

With regards to the hours during which children under the age of 14 can leave the house for play and exercise, this order modifies the previous order published on April 25th to give regional authorities the option to modify those hours (12:00-19:00) to start or finish two hours before or later but only if the total duration of the time slot doesn't change. So if it starts at 10:00, say, the slot would finish at 17:00 instead of 19:00.

This is a brief summary of what we think are the main points that most people want to know. Further and specific details should be sought from the actual document itself. There are 29 pages of fine details with much more information for those who want to digest it all; follow the link below.

Phase 1 will last for a minimum of two weeks when a decision will be made as to whether to authorise the transition to Phase 2. A lot will depend on the responsibility of us all in observing the necessary measures and requirements to prevent a possible spread of infection and a second wave. We all want to see our town head to Phase 2 as quickly as possible but it's down to us all to encourage everyone to help make that possible. Follow the rules and that light at the end of the tunnel will become bigger and brighter.

Click here to access the full details of BOE-A-2020-4911 (in Spanish).

Source: Original from Various sources
Date: Saturday 9th May 2020





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