Andalucía brings in stricter measures including closing bars, restaurants and shops at 6pm

Juanma Moreno.
Juanma Moreno. / EP
  • Soaring Covid-19 case rates this week has seen the Junta get tougher still, introducing a ban from Sunday on travel between provinces - as well as municipalities with a 14-day case rate above 500 per 100,000 people - and limiting gatherings to four people

Faced with a surge in coronavirus cases locally, the Andalusian regional government has had to act sooner than planned, with Junta president Juanma Moreno today announcing new, tougher measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 following a meeting of the Junta's committee of experts on the pandemic.

New restrictions brought in by the Junta last Monday appear to have come too late to halt a dramatic surge in the local case rates of coronavirus. National case numbers shot up too this week.

As a result, from 12.01 am on Sunday 17 January:

- All bars, restaurants and shops will have to close at 6pm

- The number of people allowed to meet in social gatherings, including in bars and restaurants, will be limited to four people

- Travel between the eight provinces of Andalucía will not be permitted (without a justified reason)

- Travel into and out of municipalities with a Covid-19 incidence rate of more than 500 per 100,000 people in the last 14 days will not be permitted (219 are currently affected)

- Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will not be allowed to open at all in municipalities with a Covid-19 incidence rate of more than 1,000 per 100,000 people in the last 14 days (91 are currently affected)

- The nighttime curfew will remain the same (10pm to 6am) unless central government approves a change for it to begin at 8pm

Experts to meet weekly

The surge was being blamed locally this week on the more contagious ‘British’ strain of Covid-19 and the aftershock of people meeting up more often until Three Kings Day on 6 January.

Earlier on Friday, Juanma Moreno announced that from now on the committee of experts would be meeting on a weekly basis, though following developments daily.

"We are facing another mutation of the virus with its British variant that is growing explosively, and this means that every day we have to be permanently adapting to the new circumstances," he said.

Stay at home message

The new restrictions announced today come as Andalucía, along with counterparts in other devolved governments across Spain, called on central government to allow them to confine people to their homes again. Currently the nationwide rules do not allow the regions to go this far.

Moreno said the regional government is not considering “right now” asking for total confinement for Andalucía, which is still below the national average in incidence rate, but “we never rule out anything”.

On Thursday, however, Moreno did call on people to stay home voluntarily and to stop converting their homes into “mini restaurants” for friends and extended family.

Andalusian Health minister Jesús Aguirre also renewed calls this week for Spain’s Health minister, Salvador Illa, to bring the night curfew rule forward an hour to 9pm - another proposal that has so far been rejected by the national government.

Last week’s changes not enough

Last Friday (8 January), the Junta de Andalucía announced new measures, for the region in force for two weeks from Monday 11 January, although events have now overtaken this optimistic revision date.

The new measures which started this week included the closure of shops and businesses at 8pm and bars and restaurants at 6pm. Cafeterias could stay open until 8pm as long as they don’t serve alcohol after 6pm. Establishments were able to stay open for the collection of takeaways until 9.30pm and food could be delivered to homes until 11.30pm.

The curfew had been brought forward to 10pm until 6am across the region. Travel out of the region was not allowed except for essential purposes but inter-provincial travel in Andalucía was still permitted this week.

These measures will remain in force until midnight on Saturday night, when the new measures announced on Friday will come into effect.