The Cabinet approved last Tuesday 28th April 2020 a transitional plan to a “new normal”, which will establish safety parameters to gradually lift restrictions. These new measures will be adapted to and will depend on how public health data evolves and how they are affected by restrictions being lifted.
Based on what I’ve read briefly on social media, there is a lot of confusion about the changes. I would like to clarify that TWO Orders were issued today, (1) applies ONLY to the islands of Formentera, la Gomera, el Hierro and la Graciosa and (2) to all other regions of Spain. Some people have read or heard about the restrictions that were lifted on these specific islands and thought they applied to everyone which is not the case.
Let’s go through Order SND388/2020, 3rd May 2020, starting with Retail Commercial Premises and Professional Services:
- All establishments, retail commercial premises and professional services whose activities were suspended after the State of Emergency was declared, with the exception of those premises that are over 400m2 as well as those within commercial centres, or within commercial centres where the establishment does not have a direct and independent access from the exterior of the building and as long as the following requirements are fulfilled: (a) An appointment system to guarantee only one customer per employee, however, a waiting area is not permitted in the interior of the commercial premise (b) Individual attention must be guaranteed each customer with the corresponding physical separation between them, and if this is not possible, counters or screens must be installed to accomplish this (c) A preferential schedule for over 65s must be established to coincide with the hours they are permitted to go outside
- The measures detailed in this Order do not apply to those business activities and establishments that were permitted to open in line with the initial decree, as these may remain open under the same conditions from the start of the State of Emergency
- All the establishments may put a collection system in place for customers to pick up their items, as long as this is staged to prevent groups of people gathering in and around the premises
- Journeying to and from the establishments may only be done within the municipality of residence, unless the service or product cannot be found there
- Establishments that open to the public must be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day, paying special attention to most-used surfaces, such as door handles, counters, furniture, bannisters, dispensers, floors, phones, clothes hangers, trolleys, baskets, taps and similar objects. The surfaces must always be cleaned at theend of the day. Disinfectants such as diluted bleach (1:50) must be used or products approved by the Health Ministry. After each clean, the materials and equipment used for personal protection must be disposed of safely, after which hands must be properly washed. A midday clean (or part-way through the work day) is recommended. Work stations must also be cleaned and disinfected betwen shift changes, paying special attention to most used surfaces and shared equipment
- Where there is more than one employee seeing to customers, the above cleaning measures must be extended to shared areas such as changing changing rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and rest areas
- Uniforms (or clothes worn to work if there is no uniform) msut be washed daily on cycles between 60 and 90 degrees
- Use of the establishments bathroom facilities is strictly prohibited, unless essential. After its use, they must be cleaned and disinfected IMMEDIATELY (toilet basin, sink, dispensers, taps, door handles…)
- All establishments and premises must have bins available (preferably with a pedal actioned lid) to deposit tissues and any other disposable material. These bins must be cleaned frequently
- Employees who are self-isolating due to contracting COVID-19, o those who are under house quarantine due to coming into contact with someone who either has the virus or is displaying symptoms, are not permitted to return to work
- The business owner is responsible for ensuring safety measures are put into place to prevent furher contagion and must make sure employees are equipped with protective gear and that hand gel (as approved by the Health Ministry) is available at all times. The use of face masks will be obligatory when saftey distances of approximately 2 metres between staff and customers or between employees cannot be guaranteed. If there are security screens installed, this distance can be reduced to 1 metre. All personnel must be properly informed and instructed about the correct use of protective gear and procedures. The same applies for third-party employees that access the premises such as delivery services
- Those companies that employ fingerprint devices to record when staff enter and leave the work place, must use an alternative system
- Internal procedures, rotas, use of equipment etc., must be modified to adhere to new protocols
- Some services such as hairdressers, beauty salons, physiotherapists and similar, cannot by nature maintain these safety distances, so they must make use of personal protective gear to ensure they are protected as well as the customer. A distance of at least 2 metres however must be maintained between each customer
- The safety distances apply in common areas for employees (changing room, locker room, bathroom, break room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom etc)
- If an employee begins to display COVID-19 related symptoms, the contact line for the Autonomous Region must be called and the employee must abandon the work place immediately, and must not be permitted to return until their medical status has been evaluated by a medic
- Customers must not linger in establishments
- A single employee is not permitted to simultaneously see to more than one customer at a time
- Establishments must provide hand dispensers for customers and these must be placed at the entrance and be maintained for proper and hygienic use
- Customers that go to establishments that have some type of autoservice are not permitted to use the equipment themselves. Instead, a member of staff must opérate the machines
- Product samples may not be used
- Clothing establishments must ensure the changing cubicles are used by one person at a time and they msut be cleaned and disinfected after each use. If a customer tries on items of clothing that they do not purchase, these items must be sanitized before being returned to the rack for another customer to try (In any case, I personally recommend washing any new items before storing them at home or wearing them, especially now)
Moving onto the Hospitality and Restaurant Sector:
- Until now, these activities have only been permitted to operate as a delivery service, but now customers may phone ahead and collect their order from the establishment
- No food may be consumed onsite
- A preferential delivery service may be provided for over 65s, dependents or other vulnerable persons
- When a customer wishes to pick up their order, they must either phone ahead or use an alternative no contact system. The establishment is responsible for advising customers of the pick-up time to prevent unnecessary groups of people in or around the establishment. An area must be set-up and clearly marked as the space where payment must be made and food collected. The necessary safety distances must be ensured or counters and screens installed
- The establishments may only remain open to the public during the times when food can be collected
- Hand sanitizer must be made available to customers upon entering the premises
- A bin with a foot pedal actioned lid must be available upon the customer leaving the premises
- Customers may not remain in the establishment longer than necessary to pay for and collect their orders
- There must be clearly marked areas in those places that allow for more than one customer to be served at a time to ensure safety distances are visible. This can be done by placing tape on the floor, creating boundaries with some type of marker or signs. In any case, a single worker is not permitted to serve more than one customer at a time
- If more than one customer cannot be served at the same time (if there are insufficient employees or maneuverability within the premise), access must be done individually unless an adult is being accompanied by somebody with a disability, a minor or a dependent
These are the measures outlined in the Order published on today’s date, that will come into effect from tomorrow Monday 4th May 2020, to allow those business activities that had been banned to operate once again under these limitations for health and safety purposes. If we all adhere to them, the quicker we will hopefully return to normal.
On another and very important note, the Government has issued assurances that those business who have employees on suspended contracts (ERTE) or those sole traders who have applied for or who are currently receiving benefits, will continue to do so even if they resume their activity based on this Order. The reason for this is because these benefits are to remain until the State of Emergency is lifted completely, but at present, only certain restrictions have been removed, but the State of Emergency itself is still in effect. I know this would have been a cause of concern for many of you, and I hope that the majority can reopen under these conditions. As you know, I normally post on these matters once the official decree or order has been published, but since this is an important issue, I felt it should be mentioned, however, when further information is released about retaining the rights to benefits etc., you can read about it here, so subscribe to my blog at www.canaryadminservices.com (fill you details out in the footer of any of the pages you access on my site and begin receiving email notifications every time I post).
And tomorrow, May the Fourth Be With You!