January 27, 2021

What will Christmas be like? These are the measures suggested by the Government to celebrate the holidays in the COVID era


One month before the Christmas holidays, the Government has made its recommendations for the celebrations that are to come and that will have to be different from other years. The document of ‘Proposals for public health measures against Covid-19 for the celebration of the Christmas holidays’ is already in the hands of the autonomous communities, which will make their proposals with the aim of being approved this Wednesday in the Interterritorial Council . The draft, which may still change, suggests the implementation of various measures “to reduce the spread” of the coronavirus and guarantee “the security and control of the pandemic.” The idea is that it is “a common and clear framework” and is made known in the “most anticipated way possible” to allow time for the population to “organize”. “We must plan a different Christmas without taking away the soul and spirit that makes them one of the most appreciated holidays by citizens.” These are its main proposals:

The Government proposes limiting meetings to six people and setting the curfew at one on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve

The Government proposes limiting meetings to six people and setting the curfew at one on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve

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Meetings of a maximum of six people

The recommendation is that only people who live together participate in the meetings, but if there is a non-living member, there will be a maximum of six people. It is also advisable to “avoid or minimize” common meetings on these dates such as work celebrations, former students, sports clubs … If held, explains the document, the limit of six will be maintained and “preferably abroad” . The Government recalls that people who are positive for coronavirus, have symptoms, are waiting for results or have been in close contact with a case, that is, all those who should be quarantined or isolated, as now, should not go to these meetings.

Curfew at one on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve

The idea is that the night-time confinement that prevails throughout the territory today –between 10.00 and 0.00 depending on the community– is maintained during the weeks of Christmas parties, “not being able to go out on the street at the established times” in each place after the declaration of the alarm state. For the two festive nights par excellence, Christmas Eve on December 24 and New Year’s Eve on December 31, the Government proposes to extend the hours and that the curfew be extended until 1 in the morning and end at 6:00.

Travel: only necessary

The document assumes that at Christmas there is traditionally an increase in displacements between territories, both national and international. As a general rule, it suggests that “those trips that are not strictly necessary should be avoided” and points out that, in any case, the measures that govern the destination should be taken into account. Right now most communities maintain perimeter confinements, and even between cities, that is, you cannot enter or leave them, but we will have to wait and see what they decide for the festivities. However, the Executive explains that if a trip is to be made, “it must be done safely” and complying with hygiene, mask and distancing measures. For international travel, it redirects to current regulations: if you come from a “risk” country or area, a negative PCR is required within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain. If it is the national population that moves to another country, it will be subject to the restrictions applied at the destination, such as having a test or keeping quarantine.

Students return home, but with utmost caution

Likewise, the Government also admits that, within the displacements, a very large group is made up of students who return during university vacations. The proposal is that they return, but he recommends that they limit social interactions the days before the trip and take extreme prevention measures, as well as once at their destination, where “they should try to limit contacts, interact especially in the open air and wear masks. ”

Horseback riding no, San Silvestre yes

And what will happen to the traditional cavalcades of the Magi? This type of event, says the Government, “involves situations of high risk of transmission” because many people attend. The proposal is that they not be held, something that several municipalities have already been announcing in recent weeks. In any case, mass events must be valued “individually” by the authorities and if they finally decide to celebrate horseback riding, it is suggested that alternatives be considered that guarantee distance and compliance with the rules, for example, “static horseback riding” in which access is controlled. For other usual activities at this time of year, such as visits to portals of Bethlehem or Christmas concerts, they can be maintained respecting a capacity of 50%.

It is also a tradition in many parts of the country to hold sporting events such as the San Silvestre marathon, which the Government does authorize to take place, but “as long as it does not interfere” with the night curfew and guaranteeing prevention measures between runners. It is also recommended that it be without an audience and broadcast on television.

A ‘mass of rooster’ that respects the curfew

A part of the population also attends during these dates to masses and other religious ceremonies. The Government points out that, when they are in closed spaces, they will follow the capacity regulations of each autonomous community and maintain the safety distance. It is also recommended not to sing. The document makes a specific recommendation for one of the most popular religious acts of these dates: the so-called ‘mass of the rooster’, which is celebrated at 00:00 on December 25, Christmas Day. It can be done, but as long as it does not interfere with the night curfew, and as an alternative, a telematic retransmission can be offered.

More outdoor activities

As the experts have been recommending since the beginning of the de-escalation, promoting activities outside and avoiding closed places with poor ventilation is one of the most effective measures. In this sense, the document proposes that in coordination with the town councils, this greater use of public space for activities, events, hospitality and commerce be favored. Remember, also, that it is forbidden to consume alcohol on public roads and smoke if a distance of two meters cannot be guaranteed, a measure that was already approved in summer.

Shopping in small shops and in advance

It is advisable to promote shopping in small shops, as it minimizes crowds and mobility and the population is advised to organize their purchases in advance. Stores and shopping centers must comply with the capacity standards set by the health authorities in each autonomous community and the “large shopping streets”, roads where there are shops and many people tend to gather at the same time, they must have access control . The traditional Christmas markets should be outdoors, something that is usual, and maintain the established capacity.

More frequency of transport and open parks

During the Christmas holidays, the frequency of schedules in public transport will be increased “to the maximum” with the aim that there are no crowds and that capacity is met. In addition to adequate ventilation and compliance with the measures: do not talk or eat and use the mask. However, the general warning is to prioritize outdoor travel, walking or cycling. To do this, the authorities must ensure that the space is adapted to this, through pedestrianization, the creation of bike lanes or the maintenance of open parks that many administrations have opted to close, contrary to scientific evidence, during different moments of the pandemic.

Current capacity in each territory in bars, cinemas or theaters

In bars or restaurants, the capacity standards imposed by each autonomous community will be followed, yes, with a maximum of six people per table, which is the limitation of social and general family gatherings proposed by the Government. The rules currently in force must also be followed: guarantee ventilation, maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between tables and diners, “reinforce the message” of using a mask when not eating or drinking and “avoid snacking.”

The same for the case of Christmas shows that are held in cinemas, theaters, tents or auditoriums, which will follow the maximum capacity in force at that time and maintaining a seat distance or 1.5 meters in case of not being fixed seats. And, again, whenever possible, they take place outdoors.

Expand visits to residences

In residences for the elderly, in which family visits and outings are very restricted, these may be extended during the Christmas season as long as hygiene and safety distance measures can be observed. If there are residents who leave the center, something that usually happens during these holidays, upon re-entry a diagnostic test will be carried out and the following days, those responsible for the residence “will take extreme measures of prevention and surveillance.”

Reinforce messages to the population

In any of the activities and celebrations that will take place during these dates, the Government recommends that the authorities reinforce the prevention messages with which they are directed to the population, and places special emphasis on ventilation and the promotion of outside. Thus, the measures grouped in ‘6M’ should be maintained: use of masks, hand washing, meters (physical distance), maximize ventilation and outdoor activities, minimize the number of contacts and “I stay home if symptoms , diagnosis or contact “.

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