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'Phase change' requests for next week: Which regions want more freedom
28 May 2020 @ 17:54

ALL OF Spain has been on either 'Phase 1' or 'Phase 2' of 'unlocking' since Monday (May 25), and a handful are hoping to progress even further a week on.

Not every region is seeking to open up more, preferring to remain in their current 'phase' for at least another seven days until they are absolutely sure the pandemic is sufficiently under control in all their area health departments.

At the moment, all the offshore territories – the Balearic and Canary Islands and the autonomously-governed cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern Moroccan coast – plus the entire regions of Asturias, Galicia, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Navarra, La Rioja, Aragón, Extremadura and Murcia are all on 'Phase 2', meaning bars and restaurants can allow customers inside, although only up to 30% of their usual maximum, shops of any size can open, and residents in coastal parts can go to the beach.

The whole of Andalucía, in the south, is on 'Phase 2' except the provinces of Málaga and Granada, which remain on 'Phase 1', as does the whole of Castilla y León and the Greater Madrid region, and Castilla-La Mancha except for the provinces of Guadalajara and Cuenca, which are on 'Phase 2'.

On the east coast, the Comunidad Valenciana opted last week not to request a move to 'Phase 2', even though data from other parts of the country show it probably would have been given licence to do so.

Here, 10 out of 24 hospital catchment areas had already been on 'Phase 1' for a fortnight, which is the standard time frame the government wants each 'Phase' to continue for, whilst the remaining 14 had only been on 'Phase 1' for a week.

Regional health minister Ana Barceló wanted these 14 health departments to have been on 'Phase 1' for two weeks before moving forward, but did not request a switch to 'Phase 2' for the others, preferring the region to reopen en bloc rather than in 'patches'.

This did not please many in more rural areas and in towns with only a negligible incidence of Covid-19 – especially bar owners and customers with limited or no outside space, who had been expecting May 25 to bring a start to 'Phase 2' and their long-awaited reopening for business.

But the wider Valencia metropolitan area and its 'home counties', as well as the densely-populated Marina Baixa district – which includes Benidorm – agreed with Sra Barceló's cautious approach and considered an extra week to be a small price to pay to ensure infection rates dropped.

In some areas of the Comunidad Valenciana – such as the Marina Alta (Dénia and district), La Safor (Gandia and district) and the Vall d'Albaida and La Costera, covered by the hospitals in Xàtiva and Ontinyent, plus Torrevieja and Orihuela (southern Alicante province) and Vinaròs (northern Castellón province) – the number of new cases of Covid-19 reported in the two weeks since 'Phase 1' started ranged from 10 to 50, and most of these had had no deaths in days, or now, in weeks.

Their intensive care units are now largely Coronavirus-free, and in the Marina Alta, 71 of the 73 medical workers infected have fully recovered with the remaining two in quarantine at home rather than in hospital.

For this reason, regional president Ximo Puig has applied for the entire region to move to 'Phase 2' from Monday, and Sra Barceló says the data are 'positive', albeit 'not static', with information being shared daily and the health services 'now fully prepared' for more opening up.



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