MADRID – The autonomous regions, together with the Ministry of Health, are working out a plan for the Semana Santa. This is the `good week´ before Easter, which is normally celebrated in great numbers all over Spain.
Austere Easter week to curb fourth wave and save summer season
A year on from when the pandemic began, health authorities have learned from previous decisions made around holiday periods. As such, Health Minister Carolina Darias already announced the Directors-General of Public Health are preparing a plan for Semana Santa.
Learning moments are the ‘too fast’ de-escalation of last summer and the relaxation during Christmas. The second wave was then still in full swing and eventually led to the current, third wave.
Nationwide strategy for Semana Santa
According to various sources, the approach for Semana Santa will be different to that of Christmas. Unlike then, the Ministry and various communities are now insisting the same criteria must apply throughout the country. As such, restrictions should be “similar, if not the same,” said PSOE spokesman for Extremadura, Juan Antonio González. And, if necessary, the regional lockdown will remain in place, meaning no travel between sub-regions.
An advisory expert from Health Services acknowledges at Easter ‘there seems to be a desire to be more lax. Also to have more freedom of movement’, however ‘extreme caution is required,’ as the pandemic is still in full swing. ‘We wanted to save the summer and Christmas, but have seen where that has led.’
According to regional sources, the Easter curfew will remain in place without relaxation. This is what experts recommend and is also the prevailing view in politics. The curfew is considered one of the most effective measures to contain the infections. Also, no community as yet has asked for the restrictions to be lifted. Futhermore, smaller communities, where tourism is not a major part of the economy or which can cover their supply with local demand, do indicate that this may be different for the tourist-dependent sub-regions.
More subdued and smaller Semana Santa this year
In fact, Regional President Ximo Puig of the Valencian Community announced a few days ago that he wants to propose to the Interterritorial Health Council that regions close their territories during Semana Santa to ‘limit mobility’. The regional government of Andalusia, a region heavily dependent on tourism, also warned of a ‘cautious’ de-escalation and announced a small-scale opening during Semana Santa. The health ministers of the Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León governments are also calling for caution.
Saving the summer season
It does not appear that any political decision to maintain the restrictions in Semana Santa will meet with resistance from the tourism and hospitality sectors, the hardest hit during the pandemic. They are looking ahead to saving the summer season. Any missteps in April will only lead to fears that the situation will not improve in the summer.