Every Thursday since last December, individuals and businesses throughout the Canaries have watched government announcements closely to see how the Canarian Government applies its semaphore system which places the islands in four different levels depending on infection rates and hospital occupancy.
The level system appears to have worked in its early days, managing to control infections and relieve pressure on hospitals. But recent legal decisions and revisions that have been applied because of the success of the vaccine programme have reduced the difference between the levels.
Even the Canarian Government appears to recognise this, and yesterday announced that it was working on a new law that would allow it to impose restrictions without risk of reversal from the courts, as was the case during the state of alarm that lasted until May.
Quite how it will square this with the Spanish constitution remains to be seen, but the Canarian Government’s frustration at the way its proposed measures such as curfews and Covid passes have been overturned is well-known.
The semaphore system is in operation throughout Spain, but the restrictions at various levels vary according to the region, and in the Canaries they have changed hugely over the last eight months.
When Lanzarote was on Level 4 in January and February this year, it meant that no more than two people could meet in public or private; shops, bars and restaurants had to close at 6pm; a curfew was in force from 11pm and no leisure travel to other islands was permitted.
None of those rules now apply to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which are currently on Level 4. The curfew and inter-island travel restrictions have been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Courts, and the Canarian Government has relaxed opening times in order to stimulate the economy.
In fact, for bars and restaurants, there is now no difference between the rules that apply at Levels 2,3 and 4. At all these levels, bars and restaurants must close at midnight and seat a maximum of six to a table outdoors (four indoors). Only Level 1 offers any change, with a 2am closing time, 100% capacity and ten-to-table rules. Night clubs are also permitted to open at this level.
The areas in which there are clear differences between levels refer to the maximum capacities permitted in churches or at funerals, in libraries and museums or at markets. Sporting activities are also subject to complicated restrictions that vary between levels.
For regular updates, pictures and videos of Lanzarote be sure to like and follow our Facebook page “Gazette Life Lanzarote”.