The Congress of Deputies, at the plenary session on March 25, approved the extension of the State of Alarm for another 15 days, among other things.
This means that all the measures, orders and decisions that have been implemented up to now and have been extended during the period of the State of Alarm shall be extended, a priori, for another 15 calendar days. In other words, the State of Alarm declared by the Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14th of March will last at least until midnight on April 11.
In fact, article 116 of the Spanish Constitution regulates the State of Alarm and establishes that it may be adopted by the Government for a maximum period of 15 calendar days. Yet it is precisely the article 116 of the Spanish Constitution that, in spite of limiting the action of the Government to declare the State of Alarm for a total period of 15 calendar days, in its second paragraph adds the possibility that the Congress of Deputies may extend such period, with unspecified time limitation.
That is, as long as the Congress of Deputies approves the extension of the period of the State of Alarm the Constitution does not limit the duration of the period. Therefore, this could be prolonged if necessary.
Last measures adopted by the Spanish Government are:
As we have already mentioned, the logical and direct consequence of the extension of the State of Alarm is that many of the Orders and Decisions that had been taken during the first two weeks of the State of Alarm shall also be extended during this second fortnight.
An example of this is the Order INT/283/2020, of 25 March, extending internal land border controls from 00:00 on 27 March 2020 to 24:00 on 11 April 2020. In other words, only the following persons will be allowed to enter the national territory by land:
(a) Spanish citizens.
(b) Residents of Spain.
(c) Residents of other Member States or Schengen Associated States on their way to their place of residence.
(d) Cross-border workers.
(e) Health or elderly care professionals on their way to work.
(f) Those that provide documentary evidence of force majeure or necessity.
Exempt from these restrictions are foreign personnel accredited as members of diplomatic missions, consular offices and international organisations located in Spain, provided that they are travelling in connection with the performance of their official duties. Similarly, and in order to ensure the continuity of economic activity and to preserve the supply chain, these measures are not applicable to the transport of goods.
Another example is Order TMA/286/2020, of 25 March, which extends the ban on entry of passenger ships from the Italian Republic and cruise ships of any origin, on Spanish ports to limit the spread of COVID-19, from 00:00 hours on 27 March 2020 to 23:59 hours on 9 April 2020.
At the same plenary meeting the Council of Deputies ratified the Royal Decree-Law, by means of which the objective dismissal for absenteeism was repealed (article 52.d of the Workers’ Statutes), which allowed dismissal for justified medical absences.
The main objective of the Minister of Health with the repeal of this article is to preserve the health of the workers, avoiding that they attend work while sick as they fear to be dismissed. Moreover, the Minister stresses that taking care of oneself, in addition to personal well-being, also guarantees the health of others.
On the other hand, and in relation to the transport sector, on March 26th the Government enacted the Ministerial Order INT/284/2020 modifying the regulation that had been adopted during the State of Alarm for the management of traffic and circulation of motor vehicles.
Article 1.1 states that the Minister of the Interior may agree to close to traffic roads or sections of roads for reasons of public health, safety or traffic flow, or to restrict access to certain vehicles on these roads for the same reasons. Furthermore, the paragraph 2 provides that, in the case of road closures or restrictions on the movement of certain vehicles, those intended for certain activities considered essential to ensure the supply of products and the provision of essential services to the population shall be exempted.
In particular, the vehicles considered essential to ensure the supply of essential goods and services are the following:
a) Those of transport and health care, both public and private; those of the Security Forces and Corps, those of civil protection and rescue and those of fire extinction.
b) Those transporting maintenance personnel or repair technicians for health facilities or equipment
c) Those for the distribution of medicines and medical equipment.
d) Those for the distribution of food.
e) Those of the Armed Forces.
f) Those for road assistance.
g) Those of the road maintenance and conservation services.
h) Those for the collection of solid urban waste.
i) Those intended for the transport of melting materials.
j) Those intended for the transport of fuels.
k) Those intended for the production, marketing, processing and distribution of agricultural, livestock and fisheries products and their inputs; for the production, distribution, rental and repair of equipment and machinery for agriculture, fisheries, livestock farming and their associated industry, and for the transport and treatment of agricultural, livestock and fisheries waste and by-products and those of the food industry.
l) Those intended for the carriage of perishable goods, understood as those set out in Annex 3 to the International Agreement on the Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs (ATP) as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, in vehicles which meet the definitions and standards expressed in Annex 1 to the ATP. In any case, perishable goods must account for at least half the payload capacity of the vehicle or occupy half the payload volume of the vehicle.
m) Those intended for the manufacture and distribution of cleaning and hygiene products.
n) Those of the Sociedad Estatal Correos y Telégrafos, S.A.
ñ) Funeral services.
o) Those used by private security companies for the provision of security transport services, response to alarms, patrols or discontinuous surveillance, and those that are necessary for the performance of security services to guarantee essential services and supply the population.
p) Other vehicles that, if not included among the above, the agents in charge of traffic control and discipline consider, in each specific case, that they contribute to guaranteeing the supply of goods or the provision of essential services to the population.
Therefore, the circulation of these vehicles will be guaranteed during the entire State of Alarm, without limitation to restrictions, both existing and future.