On Friday 23rd April, the Canarian Government published its latest Resolution that outlines updated measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the islands and states key factors as we hope to transition to a “new normal” once the State of Alarm ends. This article covers the main points of that Resolution and hopefully very clearly…
The Resolution was published on Friday afternoon in Boletín Oficial de Canarias número 83, but a press release announced some of the changes ahead of time that caused some furor that has been expressed in the media, especially in relation to obligations the hospitality sector now has to comply with but we’ll get into that a bit later. The basis of the plenary session held by the Government on the 22nd April is Royal Decree-Law 21/2020, 9th June that allows Autonomous Regions to maintain and establish their own protocols. Let’s review first the General Conditions:
OBLIGATORY USE OF MASKS
- All persons age 6 and over are obligated to wear masks. The recommendation is for us to wear reusable sanitary masks, however, exhalation valve masks are not permitted except for professions that may require them.
- Masks must be worn on public streets, open-air spaces and in any enclosed public area or open to the public. In all scenarios, the 1,5 metre safety distance must be maintained.
- In the workplace, it is up to each company’s health and safetey technician to evaluate internal protocols to ensure the safetey of all employees and clients.
- In schools and centres of education including universities
- In sport’s centres and installations
- On public transport
- In hospitals, clinics, health centres and similar
- The correct use of masks must be observed, i.e., they must completely cover the nose and mouth at all times and they must fit properly across the nose and chin to prevent respiratory secretions from escaping
- The owners of the establishments and spaces where people can gather must guarantee these rules are followed
Exceptions to the above
- Persons who present with respiratory afflictions that may be worsened by the use of masks and persons who are unable to remove their masks themselves due to disability or dependence
- Force majeure, unavoidable circumstances
- Individual open-air sport activities as long as a 2 metre safety distance between other people can be guaranteed at all times
- In open-air sports installations except when the island is at Alert Level 4. This applies only when physical activity is being practiced with a permanent 2 metre distance between each person. During professional training and competitions
- In hospitality establishments, i.e., bars, restaurants and similar and only in the moment when food and drink is being consumed
- In the great outdoors outside of populated areas if a 2 metre safety distance can be maintained between anybody else who may be out there as well
- On beaches and at pools but only when bathing or practicing water sports and professional activities in the water. This only applies though if people remain in the same spot and guarantee a 2 metre security distance between persons who do not cohabitate
- When smoking, eating or drinking but only if the person remains in the same spot, i.e., no smoking and walking down the street at the same time and ensuring the safety distance from others
- Alert Level I: Between 12am (midnight) and 6am
- Alert Level II: Between 11pm and 6am
- Alert Level III: Between 11pm and 6am
- Alert Level IV: Between 10pm and 6am
Curfew does not affect the following activities
- Purchase of medication and sanitary products at chemists
- Going to hospitals, clinics and health centres
- Going to veterinary clinics for emergent treatment
- Fulfillment of work (as an employee), professional or legal commitments
- Returning to the primary residence after any of the above activities
- To tend to the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or the particularly vunerable
- Force majeure, unavoidable circumstances
- Filling up at petrol stations when required to carry out any of the above situations
- To tend to the care of domestic or farm animals
Establishments such as restaurants, bars, cafes, terraces and ‘chiringuitos’ must guarantee the 2 metre safety distance at all times bettween chairs set at different tables or groups of tables and people sat at the bar
Each table or group of tables must be set to accommodate the number of people that may occupy them and where possible, chairs should be positioned in a zig-zag pattern to avoid patrons being sat face to face and allows for maximum distance between them. The spaces assigned for bar seating must be clearly marked
The following requirements regarding maximum occupancy and closing times mustbe observed as per the alert levels at any given moment:
- Alert Level I: 75% of maximum occupancy inside. 10 persons per table or group of tables outside. 6 persons per table or group of tables inside. 4 at the bar. Complete closing is before 12am (midnight)
- Alert Level II: 75% maximum occupany on open-air terraces and 50% inside. 6 persons per table or group of tables outside. 4 persons per table or group of tables inside. 2 at the bar. Buffets are not permitted inside. Complete closing is before 11pm. To comply with curfew regulations, pick-up at the establishment is permitted before 11pm
- Alert Level III: 50% maximum occupany on open-air terraces. Inside service is prohibited as well as loitering except to use the bathroom or to pick-up orders. 4 persons per table or group of tables and nobody may sit at the bar. Buffet service is prohibited inside. Complete closing is before 11pm. To comply with curfew regulations, pick-up at the establishment is permitted before 11pm
- Alert Level IV: The same as Alert Level III, except complete closing which must be before 6pm. To comply with curfew regulations, pick-up at the establishment is permitted before 10pm
Delivery service at all alert levels can be done until midnight. The use of the establishment’s interior and closing times do not affect those facilities within health centres, the workplace (employees only), hotels (for exclusive use of guests), education centres that may keep their regular hours, although maximum occupancy is reduced to 33%.
- Traditional menus must not be used and establishments must instead opt for electronic devices the servers must use, blackboards, signs, QR and similar alternatives
- Elements such as crockery, glassware, silverware, tablecloths etc ust be stored in a closed cupboard or way from customers
- Servillete holders, vinegar and oil bottles, salt and pepper shakers etc must not be used
- Smoking on terraces and other dependent open-air spaces of the establishment is prohibited
- Correct interior ventilation must be a priority
- Customers may not occupy a table unles directed by a member of staff because the tables, chairs etc must be properly disinfected after each use. Customers must remain seated at their table and limit any movement around the establishment as much as possible
- Buffets must be monitored to ensure proper use of masks, hand sanitization and non-contamination of food products
- Pick-up and delivery services are permitted, observing safety distances and other preventative measures at all times
- Food pick-up services must be properly organized so that the customer orders by phone or similar system, the establishment will set the collect time to avoid unneccesary crowding. If the establishment has a drive through, the order can be taken from the vehicle as normal
So this is the star of this article… over the weekend, you may have been surprised if the establishment asked for your details, but this is in line with new regulations, although many establishments are unaware of this obligation because as mentioned at the beginning, this resolution was published on Friday afternoon and came into immediate effect!
From now on and until further notice, when customers are seated inside the establishment, their full names, D.N.I. or similar ID number, phone number, date and time of service must be logged. This measure is to track people who may have come into contact with someone who is later diagnosed with COVID-19; this way, the Health Department (Sanidad) can request the form from the establishment and call those who were there around the same time as the infected person. Establishments are required to keep these logs for one month after the log date for Health Inspectors to examine if necessary.
According to the Resolution, this only applies to at alert levels 1 and 2 because interior seating is not permitted at the higher levels and it would seem it also applies if a customer merely goes inside to use the bathroom facilities. There are queries of course about the open-air aspect because if the establishment’s exterior terrace is partially covered or has walls on either side, in theory, the customer’s details must also be taken. This observation is taken from previous decrees regarding the definition of “outside terrace” so if we apply the same principal, it could actually be considered an interior space. To be on the safe side, my recommendation would be to take customer details in this scenario as well.
A member of staff must take these details down on a form and the establishment must not allow customers access to the forms at all for data protection purposes. My affected clients received a template of this form on Saturday in order to record the obligatory information but you can create your own as long as it contains the data stipulated in the Resolution. I also advise the logs are kept in a folder (not see through) and kept out of sight for data protection reasons.
As you can imagine, this customer log has caused outrage within the hospitality sector, the most affected group since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Associations have called out the additional complications this supposes for an already struggling sector especially those that serve large numbers a day or provide fast-food services. They also mention the fact there is little information about how to apply this requirement and no official template was provided. The other inconvenience is to do with data protection laws; although all establishments should already be registered at the Spanish Data Protection Agency, they open themselves up to exorbitant fines if they do not process the logs correctly (see my above suggestions on this point). Take extra caution to comply with data protection regulations.