COVID-19: Lockdown Restrictions 101

I do remember a time when my post’s titles did not begin COVID-19! Since the country entered into

I do remember a time when my post’s titles did not begin COVID-19! Since the country entered into a State of Emergency on that fateful Saturday 14th March 2020, there have been many articles in the media about the restrictions that have been imposed on us, but although we have now been in lockdown for just over a month, there is still a lot of confusion about what we are allowed and not allowed to do. Let’s recap…

The Directorate of the Nacional Police issued this document that explains different scenarios, and here I’m going to summarize the key points so you can be informed and more importantly stay safe (and avoid potential fines!):

1. Royal Decree 463/2020, 14th March (amended by Royal Decree 465/2020, 18th March) states that we are restricted in our movements. We can only move about on streets or public areas for the following activities, and even then, they must be done individually unless we must accompany a minor, a person with discapacities, the elderly or another justifiable cause:

a) To buy food, medication or essential items

b) To go to hospitals, clinics or other medical centres

c) To travel to and from the workplace or for business owners to carry out services

d) To return to our primary residence

e) To look after the elderly, minors or other dependents

f) To travel to and from banks and insurance companies

g) For emergent cases

h) Other activities of a similar nature

What happens if you get stopped by police forces when carrying out any of the above activities? You would be required to produce justification of your journey such as a receipt from the shop for your purchases or an appointment slip or doctor’s report for example. The police may ask for proof of address to determine whether your trip is justified, so if you venture too far from home, you may be cautioned or fined and told you must shop more locally.

As you know, children are not permitted to leave home unless it is strictly necessary (hospital visit for example), but if the child lives in a single-parent environment and cannot be left at home alone, they may accompany the parent. Do not abuse this because if the child is considered old enough to remain at home unsupervised while the parent goes shopping for example, the police could take action so just because the child may be under the age of 18, it does not mean they must go everywhere with you.

Another important question that has arisen is again about children and those parents who have shared custody. This document indicates that movement is permitted to collect and drop the children off at their respective parents’ homes. In this situation, the police would require the legal ruling , divorce or custody agreement as proof.

We’ve all seen memes about dog sharing as the perfect excuse to get some fresh air, and there was the fantastic case in Lanzarote about a guy who was fined for taking a COCKEREL out for a walk with a piece of string! Dog owners are allowed to walk their dogs, BUT… this must not be abused either. Only short walks are permitted so the dogs can do their business (obviously all responsable owners will clean up the mess!) and no contact with other dogs or owners is allowed. They recommend going out at the least busy times when you may come across other owners, but more importantly, YOU MUST NOT VENTURE TOO FAR FROM HOME. The police WILL verify your address and recently, a woman in Lanzarote was fined for putting her dogs in her car and driving 5km to a spot where she wanted to walk her dogs.

If you own other types of animals, you are permitted to go out to buy food etc for them and if they should get ill, vets are authorized to work.

Thanks to social workers, some rules have been relaxed for certain people who have discapacities or those who are on the autistic spectrum because extreme lockdown regulations and the upset to their normal routine is very distressing for them, so they may go out for accompanied walks maintaining social distancing measures. The police may require a medical report if their condition is not visibly obvious to the officer.

The use of communal areas within communities of owners is prohibted and the president may be required to seal off said areas if necessary.

The homeless are permitted to remain on the streets as they do not have permanent residence, however many are being relocated to social housing while the crisis lasts. In La Oliva, many have been moved to the Municipal Sports Centre where food is also being distributed.

You are not permitted to travel to your second home if you are lucky enough to have one.

For the duration of the State of Emergency, no religious service may be held. A máximum of three persons besides the minister are permitted to attend funerals or cremations.

This following point has been a major issue. How must we travel in cars if we have to go out? Travel is only acceptable for the above-mentioned approved activities or to fuel up at a petrol station. If more than one person is in the vehicle, they must be in the back seat or if there is more than one row of seats, ONE PERSON PER ROW maintaining as much separation between them as possible. If more than one person is in the vehicle, their presence must be for a valid reason.

Many businesses have sadly been forced to close down for the duration, but other business activities are still authorized. Although they are working behind closed doors for the most part, there are rules to ensure social distancing.

Employees are required to carry a certificate issued by their boss stating their job, address of the workplace and work hours. This document must be signed and stamped. Alternatively, they may also carry their last payslip or work contract as proof.

Athough it is perfectly legal for business owners to continue their activity, they must also carry documents as evidence, such as business registration documents, their last tax return or their Municipal Opening Licence (I did chuckle at that last one because in La Oliva, official Opening Licences are like gold dust, it is rare to see one!)

This lockdown is taking a toll on everybody and we are starting to see individuals starting to break the rules and go out for non-essential purposes, to go for a run, to take their children out for a walk or even to visit Friends. There is a reason why we are doing this, so to deliberately flaunt the rules puts others at risk and creates scenarios where the virus could spread further. Remember, we are staying home to relieve the National Health Care System, so with that in mind, lets be considerate and hopefully restrictions will be lifted sooner than expected.

I hope this summary has helped those who still had doubts about regulations. You can read the document for yourselves, albeit in Spanish here. If you’re anything like me, since this started, I find myself telling people on the TV screen, they are standing too close together! It is pretty scary how quickly we have adapted to this situation and now physical proximity or contact with others now feels alien.

About Sabrina L. Williams

Although I was born in the UK, I moved to the Canary Islands, Spain at a young age and I haven't looked back. The Canaries is a fantastic place to live, I mean you can do all types of outdoor activities practically all year round because of the great weather. Horses are my poison but the islands are also a superb spot for water sports so they do attract a lot of attention from people around the world. Anyway, enough about that. Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest, scariest yet best decisions I'd ever made and set-up my own business in the middle of a recession. I love what I do as no two days are the same, plus Spanish law keeps me on my toes as it is constantly changing (often without warning!) so there is always something new to learn. As I've branched out in the world of Administrative Consultancy, I decided to create a blog to discuss topics of interest to others in my industry and my clients, share tips and experiences, to see what new ideas people have for improving their businesses and the like so I hope you'll find the time to join me on this venture...

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