– UPDATE 8 June 2020: –
Spanish government has published rapidly all kinds of new legislation and regulations concerning many different areas of business and private life during the ‘state of alarm’ or lockdown that will continue for now at least until 00.00 o’clock on 21 June 2020.
Please be aware that these rules, like all regulation over the past years, are drafted in the most ambiguous way. Nobody is reading and interpreting them in the same way, which creates legal insecurity. At this point I must admit that we are used to that in Spain, where there is always a struggle when interpreting law. Nothing on the legal territory seems to be straight forward.
With that in mind, I have tried and summarise for you these regulations as they get published. I have tried to bring it to you in laymen terms, and only the parts that could affect our clients, be it business of private clients.
It will not answer all your questions, but at least it will give you a general idea of your rights and obligations within this framework of new regulations due to the Corona Virus Pandemic.
In the following, you can click on the particular regulation to download the pdf file that holds a more detailed summary.
We have not been publising anything else
Summary: The tax incentives for the tourist industry or related business basically allows these businesses to postpone payment of taxes for 6 months. Although technically it also gives them a discount on social security contributions for employees, these benefits can only be obtained if the employee is kept on, which, in many cases, will not happen. If there is no work, why would you keep an employee on?
Summary: The ‘state of alarm’ or lockdown regulation limits during 15 days the freedom of movement and shuts down most commercial and retail activity which is not related to food, primary needs or health care. During the lockdown people can only be on public roads for the following activities, which must be carried out individually, except for accompanying disabled people or for different justified reasons:
a) Purchasing of food, pharmaceutical products and products of primary need;
b) Attendance to health centres, establishments or services;
c) Travel to work;
d) Return to home;
e) Attendance to elderly or underage people, persons with disability or people who are especially vulnerable;
f) Travel to bank or insurance company;
g) Because of force majeure o situation of need;
h) whatever activity of similar nature;
You may drive a vehicle on public roads for the purpose of previously said activities, or to refuel;
You must respect at any time the indications and recommendations of the health authorities.
Several exceptions have been made in view of a “de-escalation”, or simply going back to a normal situation.
Update 25 April 2020:Orden SND 370/2020 was published that allows children under 14 to go out. The conditions are:
• once a day;
• maximum one hour;
• to a distance no further than 1 km;
• between 12.00 and 19.00 h;
• they can go anywhere, except playgrounds;
• they must comply with the ‘COVID19 prevention and hygiene recommendations from the health authorities’;
• under vigilance of a parent or an authorised adult;
• each adult can take out maximum 3 children;
Update 1 May 2020: Instruction SND 380/2020 of 30 April was published allowing persons over 14 to carry out “physical activity” outside the home. The conditions are as follows:
• Any physical activity that does not involve contact with third parties;
• Once a day;
• Someone from the same household is allowed to join, or a carer (between 14 and 70 years of age) in case of dependents;
• Walks no more than 1 kilometre from the home, sports activities no more than the municipal boundaries;
• Distance between other persons at least 2 metres;
• Places where many people gather should be avoided;
• Exercise should preferably be carried out without break and, if a break is necessary, only for the duration strictly necessary;
• The “Covid-19 government prevention and hygiene recommendations” should be followed;
Exercise may be performed at all outdoor locations, not in enclosed spaces such as gyms or other venues, and it is forbidden to travel to any location by car or public transport.
The time zones for physical activity are divided by age group:
a) Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.: ages between 14 and 70;
b) Between 10 a.m. and 12 noon and 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.: dependents and persons over 70 years of age;
The above does not apply to towns or residential areas with less than 5,000 inhabitants. There, one may exercise or walk freely between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Update 4 May 2020: Orden SND 388/2020, of 3 May was published. It issues a general permission for the opening of shops and retail establishments, provided they comply with certain conditions. The regulation refers to shops and establishments that have been closed on the account of the lockdown regulation. Malls, commercial centres nor commercial establishments over 400m2 are not included. Small establishments inside the mall who have no direct access are not allowed either to open their doors.
The conditions are, to say the least, complex and impractical, which would either lead to a general disobedience or shops will simply not open until the lockdown is lifted. The text is belittling. Government is actually telling the shops how to run their business in certain occasions, for example that orders need to be attended according to the FIFO (first in, first out) system.
• Attendance of clients only on appointment so that there is never more than one client per worker in the establishment;
• Customers are not allowed to wait inside;
• Attendance of clients should be carried out at a safe physical distance or separation, at least 1 meter if used personal protection gear or 2 meters in all other situations. If this is not possible due to the nature of the service or work, the clients need to maintain at least 2 meters distance between themselves;
• All workers need to keep a distance of at least 2 meters;
• Pickups or takeaway are allowed if organised in such a way that avoids waiting lines;
• There needs to be an exclusive time window for elder people of 65, within the time window that this age group can exercise (see these time windows above under the update of May 1st);
Note: as said, this legislation is often hastily written, without proper overthinking. In the previous instruction, the age groups were children up to 14 years of age, people between 14 and 70, and elderly beyond 70 years of age. No idea why now they have introduced a new age group beyond 65 that they connect with the time window for exercise of a different age group.
Customers are not allowed to go shopping beyond the town limits unless the products they are looking for is not available within these town limits.
As far as hygiene and disinfection, the establishments are expected to clean and disinfect ‘the establishment’ at least twice a day, especially the ‘contact’ surfaces, This includes not only the work area but also other areas like lockers, bathrooms, kitchens or other areas, for those shops that have more than one employee:
• One of these cleanings needs to be carried out mandatory at the end of the day;
• The disinfectant must be anti-virus or suitable, and you need to follow the instruction of the manufacturer;
• After the cleaning, all personal protection material must be thrown away and you must wash your hands;
• The shop or establishment may be closed during the cleaning;
• A clean must be carried out after every shift;
• All clothes used in the work area need to be washed;
• The establishment need to be ventilated adequately;
• Customers cannot use the toilets unless it is necessary and if this occurs you are expected to disinfect the toilet immediately after;
And there are more rules:
• The establishment needs to be fitted with waste bins that need to be cleaned at least once a day;
• All owners of establishments need to comply with ‘the legislation regarding risk prevention’. They need to provide workers with individual protection material, hydroalcoholic gel or soap;
• A mask is mandatory if there is no guarantee that a safe distance can be kept, and all staff needs to be trained in personal hygiene and the use of individual protection equipment. This also applies to workers from providers that visit the establishment;
• The workers registration system that is operated through a fingerprint must be substituted for a different system that guarantees the health of the workers, or to be disinfected after every use;
• The setup of workplaces should be rearranged so workers maintain enough distance, at least 2 meters;
• The establishments need to have signals to point out the necessary distance through stickers on the floor, signs or other means;
• There needs to be disinfectant available for customers;
• In ‘selfservice’ areas, a worker needs to attend to customers to avoid them ‘manipulating’ products;
• The use of samples is prohibited;
• Fitting rooms can only be used by one person at a time, and need to be disinfected after every use, including the clothes that have been tried for fitting;
Leisure establishments (restaurants and bars)
• These establishments may (continue to) operate on a takeaway or delivery basis only;
• They must comply with the general conditions as set out in this legislation;
• They can establish a preference for elderly people over 65 years of age or other vulnerable groups;
• Every order needs to be done through telephone or online and the establishments needs to have a pickup schedule in place to avoid lines;
• The pickup zone must have enough space to guarantee a safe distance;
Update 23 May 2020: From 25 may onwards, restrictions are getting less in some areas, other areas not. Since it is imposible to analyse and explain and no one really knows what rule applies to what situation, we advice you to simply use comon sense and hope for the government to find theirs as well in short term.
Summary: Government made an announcement of support to all the businesses they have shut down. The way I see it, these benefits are described in 46 pages of meaningless regulation. It does not create benefits for new situations due to the Governments lockdown, but merely confirms already existing benefits for financially vulnerable people, for workers who cannot attend work because they need to attend family. There is a chapter that contains regulations for postponement of mortgage payments, but the conditions to apply for this postponement in most cases will not be met by businesses that have lost their income due to the Governments lockdown and it requires a lot of work and effort to proof if a business is affected by the Governments lockdown.
The only two true benefits I can see for some of our clients are that those who lose their income due to the Government lockdown can apply for an unemployment benefit which in most cases will be approx. 750 €. Of course, for that you will need to proof a drop in sales compared to previous months. As we all know, tourist industry is slow in winter, and was about to start. So to proof a drop of income will be difficult. The other benefit that might be useful is that you can apply to suspend the contracts of employees or reduce the working hours, provided you comply with the conditions.
Update 28 March 2020: Government has made some clarifications and amendments with Royal Decree Law 9/2020. It holds important rules on how to proceed to apply for benefits for the workers. It also ads in art. 2 that ‘force majeure’ and economical, technical, organisational or production motivated reasons are not enough to dismiss an employee.
Update 14 April 2020: The tax office has decided to extend the deadline for tax declarations for one month, until 20 May 2020.
Update 19 April 2020: Government has made amendments through Royal Decree law 11/2020, Royal Decree Law 14/2020 and other regulations. You will find these amendments marked in red in the pdf. The most important changes are:
1. A discount of 25% of utility bills of the permanent home of self-employed who are affected by the lockdown and meet certain financial conditions;
2. The conditions for temporary postponement of mortgage payments;
3. The conditions for tenants to get financial aid to pay for the expenses of their home or business unit up to 900 € per month;
4. Postponement of Tax returns and payment until 20 May 2020.
Update 24 April 2020: Government has published a list of activities that are considered entitled to postpone their social security payments with reference of art. 34 of RDL 11/2020. It is a limited list that includes agricultural activities, graphic arts, metal industry, plumbing, some specific building activities, food shops, shops in general, publicity agents, dentistry and hairdressers.
Update 30 April 2020: government has published the details of the benefits for tenants as laid down in art. 9 of RDL 11/2020 through Orden TMA 378/2020 of 30 April. The most important change is the increase of the income limit to 2.689,20 € (before in most cases: 1.613,52 €) and the extension of the benefit to self-employed, so every tenant whose income does not exceed 2.689,20 € is eligible for this benefit.
Downside of the detailed regulation is that the benefit does not seem to cover any longer all housing costs, just the rent.
If you wish to apply for this benefit with your bank, you should fill out the form that was published and you can download Anexo I BOE Orden TMA 378/2020 here. We have made an editable version of it.
Summary: This regulation basically orders the closure of all tourist accommodation and forces those accommodation with clients still present to close after their departure, or in maximum 7 days after 19 March 2020.
Summary: Government has issued a mandatory paid absence of leave for employees that work in a sector which is not considered ‘essential’. It was effective from 30 March 2020 to 9 April 2020, both days included. This regulation therefore has expired. I have kept this regulation here for those who want to read it still. Employees must recuperate the work hours from the moment the lockdown is lifted.
On 30 March 2020 the business can still have its employees making necessary preparations if you cannot stop the activity immediately. After that, a minimum workforce can continue to do necessary work to ensure that the business can go back to trading after the lockdown is lifted.
A list of exceptions (meaning essential areas) is enclosed in the pdf. A summary of this list is the following:
1. Industries that already have been ordered closed (these industries are supposed to have sent their employees home already with unemployment benefit);
2. Food industry for primary needs
3. Restaurants that do ‘home delivery’
4. Medical equipment and service industry
5. All support activities to those industries mentioned in this list;
7. Prison staff, Public and Private Security
8. Armed Forces
9. Medical care, Laboratories that investigate COVID-19
10. Animal welfare
11. News and Communication agencies, included newspaper sales
12. Financial and insurance services that are essential, payment services and stock market
13. Telecom and audiovisual services, essential IT services
14. Services related to domestic violence
15. Solicitors, barristers, consultants, translators and psychologists that need to attend to courts of law.
16. Legal counsel, administrative services, risk prevention services to attend to urgent matters
17. Notary and Registry to attend to essential services
18. Cleaning, maintenance and repair in case of urgency, refuse collection, waste treatment, decontamination services
19. Refugees centers
20. Water treatment and purification plants
21. Weather and meteorological services
22. Postal services
23. Medical equipment importation, distribution and storage
24. Internet purchase distribution services
25. Any other industry that is considered essential
Roeland van Passel