Semana Santa is going to be celebrated in the same fashion as everything this past year, with restrictions, restrictions and more restrictions. I imagine that the disregard of any type of safety protocols over Christmas and New Year’s that created another spike in COVID-19 is the reason behind the measures that have been put in place.

Travel between islands from midnight last night and until midnight of Friday 9th April to coincide with Easter has been restricted which does not include exceptions indicated in Royal Decree-Law 926/2020 of 25th October (medical, work related, return to one’s primary residence…). The only way to travel between islands for reasons that do not meet that criteria is to show proof of a negative COVID PRC test.

Other restrictions are to do with limited number of persons who can meet in public areas (indoors or open-air) to a maximum of four as long as they do not reside in the same house (Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3) and a maximum of two (Alert Level 4). Only persons who reside in the same house may gather in private residences.

Curfew has been set between 11pm and 6pm (Alert Level 1) and between 10pm and 6am (Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4). This does not affect essential activities.

Restrictions will also apply to those wishing to enter the Canary Islands during the Easter period.

There are of course specific measures for the hospitality sector (restaurants, bars, terraces, cafés and similar) besides the general measures in place for each alert level during this period.

  • Safety distance of at least 2 metres between chairs belonging to different groups of tables.
  • Try to ensure the maximum distance between occupants of the same table, preferably so they are sat face to face
  • Consumption of food and drink outside of the designated seating area assigned to each customer is prohibited and specifically alcoholic beverages
  • Smoking on terraces or other open-air areas belonging to the establishment is strictly prohibited. Smoking tabacco or other substances within a 5 metre perimeter of access points of the establishments is prohibited.
  • Customers must remain at their tables to reduce movement around the establishment as much as possible.
  • The use of masks is obligatory except in the moment in which food or drink is consumed, so basically between bites and sips you must slip the mask back on.
  • Activities that promote gatherings, incorrect use of masks or non-compliance with the safetey distance are prohibited (fiestas, dances, karaokes, competitions, concerts or ambient music that invites people to sing or dance…).
  • The owners of the establishments are responsible for ensuring all appropriate measures to prevent further contagion of COVID-19.

This list of restrictions definitely does not put one in the mood for celebrating anything, but I suppose that is kind of the point and it does not mean you can’t go out and still have fun. What I do know is that the blatant disregard of these rules just sets us back even further and if we don’t do our best to follow guidelines and restrictions, we are never going to break this cycle, and I can’t be the only one who wants to return to a pre-COVID existence some time in the very near future.

Due to recent changes in Fuerteventura brought about by increased COVID-19 restrictions, the Ayuntamiento de La Oliva will permit business owners in the hospitality sector who perhaps do not have an outdoor terrace to occupy part of the street so they can remain open.

As published in my previous article, Fuerteventura’s Alert Level increased to Three which means that indoor service is not permitted for the time being, however, this means that many establishments that do not have outside space have to make the difficult “choice” to close doors once again.

This Ayuntamiento will receive applications to use part of the street to set up a temporary terrace area to prevent further closures and financial loss to hard-working local business owners and their staff. Since this measure is in line with a Government Agreement on 16th December 2020 that states that “use of public domain will be exceptionally and provisionally granted during periods in which the islands are subject to Alert Level 3 and higher restrictions”, no other specifics besides either being in possession of the Opening Licences or providing proof it has been applied for have been indicated.

The Department of Commerce is responsible for processing these applications so if you are an affected party, it is well worth applying.

Who would have thought two years ago that we would live in a world where we would experience lockdowns, curfews and restrictions where we are prohibited from seeing our own family and friends? This is our new reality and we must get used to constant changes in what we are permitted to do at any given moment.

To be honest, this year, I have not really wanted to write as much because I’m COVID-out, but I have to suck it up and keep reading the daily law changes. So here is the latest I’m bringing to you after it was approved on Friday and comes into effect from tomorrow, Monday 22nd March 2021. What are the restrictions for Alert Level Three?:

  1. Travel: Restricted travel and movement of persons to and from the island except justified travel (work, emergencies…). Those who have can prove they have pre-booked in tourist establishments will be authorized entry as per Decree-Law 17/2020, 29th October.
  2. Public and Private Areas: Maximum gatherings of four people except those who reside in the same home.
  3. Curfew: We must make sure to be home between 10pm and 6am every day except for essential activities (article 5 of Royal Decree 926/2020, 25th October).
  4. Hospitals: Visits are prohibited except for patients who are minors, pregnant, terminal or in similar circumstances.
  5. Hospitality Sector: Maximum of four persons per table. The security distance between tables is the usual 2 metres. Occupancy on terraces is lowered to 50% and unfortunately service in the interior of establishments is not permitted. Nobody is allowed to be seated at the bar. Interior buffets are not permitted, however, they may take place outside. Restricted areas must be clearly marks and activities that do not allow for the safety distance between patrons are not allowed. All establishments must be closed before 10pm allowing time for staff to get home.
  6. Sport: All interior sports activities are prohibited, however, they are allowed outside as long as occupancy is decreased to 50% of the normal number of people. Groups are limited to a maximum of four including the monitor if the minimum security distance cannot be guaranteed.
  7. Transport: Obligatory use of masks and it is not permitted to eat, drink or smoke onboard. Singing, shouting, initiating conversations with other passengers and phone conversations are restricted as well (breathing is optional!!!!). We are encouraged not to travel at peak times except for essential activities.

Good luck everybody and stay safe

After the fiasco that was this week in La Oliva after our Mayor, Pilar González Segura issued an authorized increase from alert level II to level III of the municipality only to revoke it a day and a half later, there are more changes to the island’s status, only this time from the correct source.

Following on from the temporary measures decreed throughout the Canary Islands last week, yesterday, Fuerteventura has officially gone from Alert Level I to Level II due to increased cases that are no doubt a result from illegal mass gatherings and parties since Christmas and especially over New Year’s where standard security measures have not been properly observed.

A Plenary Session of the Canarian Government was held on Thursday 14th January 2021 to amend the alert levels of Lanzarote (increased to Level III), Fuerteventura (increased to Level II) and La Gomera (reduced to Level I) and came into effect yesterday, Friday 15th January until Thursday 28th January inclusive as can be seen on the released Announcement.

Restrictions for Alert Level II are:

  • Curfew: Freedom of movement is limited between 11pm and 6am every day
  • Limitations of groups of people in public and private areas: This is restricted to a maximum of FOUR persons except in the cases of co-habitants. If the group is a mixture of both co-habitants and non co-habitants, the maximum is still FOUR.
  • Specific measures for the Hotel and Restaurant Sector (terraces, bars and cafes): The maximum number of persons permitted per table is reduced from six to FOUR and the establishment must close to the public by 11pm. Activities that do not allow the required 2 metre safety distance are not permitted in terraces or other open-air spaces attached to the establishment, i.e., dancing, karaoke and similar
  • Sport Activities: Group or team sports practiced in indoor installations and sports centres that do not allow a permanent safety distance of 2 metres between persons is restricted to a maximum of FOUR persons per group including the instructor. In open-air areas, team sports that do not guarantee a permanent safety distance between participants at all times are not permitted. Group activities where it is not possible to maintain a permanent 2 metre security distance are restricted to a maximum of FOUR persons per group including the instructor (Personal Note: This last part for open-air activities seems contradictory because it is either not permitted or restricted so use discretion here)
  • Hospitals and Public Health Centres: Visitation is limited and must be supervised by health care specialists within the centres. Proper clinical face masks must be used otherwise entry will be refused.
  • Public Transport: In regular public road transport, the maximum capacity has been reduced to 50%. Police forces will be extra vigilant during peak times/ rush hour to prevent crowds from gathering at bus stops etc., and request only essential travel at these times. The frequency of bus routes will be increased and as before, food and drink may not be consumed on board and masks must be used correctly (not under the nose or chin)

These measures will be reviewed again around 28th January to see whether they have been successful or not and if the number of cases decrease, Fuerteventura may return to Alert Level I.

Personally, I am not one for checking the daily statistics of the Canary Islands as I find it too depressing to be so immersed in everything COVID-19, but since we are on the subject, the latest report of the last 24 hours shows the following:

There have been 368 new cases which takes the total number of accumulated cases in the Canary Islands to 30.946 of which there are 7.825 active cases (55 remain in Intensive Care; 300 are hospitalized and the remainder are quarantining at home). There have been four deaths (two males from Tenerife and two from Gran Canaria) aged between 49 and 82 and all with pre-existing medical conditions.

In a plenary session at the Town Hall of La Oliva held on 11th November 2020, they approved requirements to help business owners overcome financial difficulties caused by COVID-19.

The local government has set 405.000 euros aside for this line of financial aid knowing that La Oliva is principally a tourist destination and travel restrictions have hampered business owners’ ability to operate as normal. There are other possibilities lined up for 2021 to provide “real solutions to real problems”.

The grant amounts to 800 euros per applicant, but preference will be given to those who are struggling the most (and can prove it). The net income for 2019 for those who are interested in applying must not exceed 50.000 euros and they must have continued their busines activity throughout the pandemic showing more than a 20% loss since the State of Emergency began, their activity must take place in the municipality of La Oliva and their registered tax address must also be in La Oliva.

This agreement must be published in the Provincial Bulletin of Las Palmas to allow the Town Hall to officially launch the grant around the 15th December 2020. More information will hopefully become available at that time.

TERRACE TAX: The same Plenary Session unanimously approved the suspension of Terrace Tax (commercial use of public areas) during 2021. The new government in power says they were unable to reduce the charge for 2020 so instead they adjusted it for the months the premises were closed.

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