Small businesses and the population of Aragón are trying to assess the impact of new measures announced by the Aragónese Government.
Late on Thursday (13th Jan 2021) news broke that the local authorities are considering the implementation of a new round of aggressive restrictions in the seemingly unending battle against COVID infections.
The authorities held a press conference on the morning of Friday January 14th and announced the implementation of the following measures:
Social gatherings are limited to four people and despite consideration of closing non essential businesses at 18.00, the 20.00 limit remains unchanged but a 18.00 closing time is to be introduced for Friday through to Sunday. The curfew is adjusted to 22.00. Perimeter confinements are in effect for Zaragoza, Huesca, Teruel Calatayud, Utebo, Ejea, Alcañíz y Tarazona and Cuarte.
The language being used by officials indicates that they anticipate the metrics of positive test results and hospital admissions to not peak for another three weeks. President Lambán announced measures were being considered in line with "health criteria" and that "modifications of measures" were being considered.
Restrictions in force in other regions
Other autonomous communities have taken even more drastic measures in their respective areas, giving us a clear indication of what has been considered legitimate under the State of Emergency powers provided to local authorities.
Murcia have banned social gatherings between households announced on 13th January to be in effect 14th January. This measure is for public and private, indoor and outdoor spaces, including vehicles. The stated aim is to eliminate all interaction without a mask. There are exceptions for workplaces an educational centres, people who live alone, care of elderly or dependents and children with parents in different households. it is unclear how these rules apply to public transport. Mallorca and Ibiza have also implemented a similar policy.
In Andalucía hospitality businesses are already required to close at 18.00 or able to remain open until 20.00 without sales and consumption of alcohol, although some specific areas have shops and hospitality venues completely closed and a 22.00 curfew is in effect.
Basque Country authorities enacted perimeter confinements within municipalities and in La Rioja all non-essential businesses now close at 5pm and group meetings limited to four people.
Galicia has limited meetings to a maximum of 4 people, banned all non-essential travel in its largest cities, told bars and restaurants to close at 4pm and brought the curfew in the northwestern region forward to 10pm.
Navarra has brought forward the curfew from 10pm to 9pm and banned smoking in terraces and outside bars.
Castilla y Leon has told citizens to avoid unnecessary contact and has closed its borders until May,
Doctors in Murcia have called for a home confinement of at least two weeks. The so called “circuit breaker”.
“We understand that home confinement is a last resort that entails a deprivation of citizens’ rights that no-one wants,” said an open letter from Murcia’s College of Physicians.
"But the situation is very serious and we have to be aware that the fight against the virus demands the effort and commitment of all to avoid more victims, suffering and the total collapse of our healthcare system.”
Officials have described this recent uptick of cases as the result of Christmas social interaction and anticipate a further wave as a result of the Three Kings holiday.
What comes next?
It is clear that the Spanish authorities are struggling to steer a path through this latest wave. A full lockdown has been called for but it seems as if there is a clear recognition now that such a measure could be considered little more than economic armageddon. If there is an economic collapse the potential impacts on health could be just as devastating, if not worse. Authorities are victim of their own success though. After the relentless messaging on the gravity of the situation and having demonstrated draconian restrictions on liberty are the only tools in the box people have clamoured for harder measures and all hopes rest on the much lauded vaccination programme. The slow progress of that programme is already creating concerns as to how long it will take that perceived "silver bullet" to hit the target.