The Community of Madrid enters today the first level of the de-escalation with two weeks of delay with respect to other provinces of Spain. Although it will be the first contact with the long-awaited recovery of activity, the reactivation will not be as wide as this stadium allows.
The enormous deployment on the different platforms of public transport, with Metro at the forefront, contrasts with the return to work of just 5 percent of bars and restaurants and half of the shops in the region. Although the large parks of the capital and other municipalities will be available, sport in some municipal facilities will be impossible and will only be allowed on the street as before. The regional government is already proposing the revision and flexibility of all schedules.
The theory says that in phase 1, which we entered this Monday, shops of less than 400 square meters can open, reducing the capacity to 30 percent. In practice, this will mean that only half are open today. This is what business organizations like Acotex calculate, chaired by Eduardo Zamácola. And that coincides in the data where, in the absence of data, they make an approximation: «Without counting CEIM, the Madrid employers’ association, the Shopping Centers, El Corte Inglés or premises of more than 400 meters, we estimate that they will open around 50 percent of the markets”.
The small stores have started the “We will return if you come back” campaign, in collaboration with the Madrid City Council.
El Corte Inglés also reopens its establishments in Madrid, although in areas limited to 400 meters and with security measures, including disinfection of garments and changing rooms after each client.
Trade has a weight of 13.2 percent in regional GDP, of which 7.4 corresponds to retail trade. There are more than 65,000 retail establishments and more than 39,000 wholesalers in the region, which employ 286,834 people.
Transport: with mask and distance
Large public transport systems are already prepared for the great challenge that will be brought back – gradually – to the normality of several million users in the midst of a health pandemic. In Metro, as of today Monday, the offer is reinforced until reaching 90 percent of the usual, and also counts and capacity controls will begin in the 26 busiest stations. Two hundred security guards will monitor the influx of travelers. In a few weeks, it will be automatic, and will block access lathes if necessary for periods of 10 or 15 minutes. And the distances to be respected between each one have been signposted, both inside the trains and on the platforms.
In addition, mask vending machines –required to travel in this medium– and hydrogel bottles have been installed in the most popular stations. The masks are reusable and washable up to 10 times, and cost 3 euros per unit.
The president of the Metro and transport adviser, Ángel Garrido, yesterday asked users to avoid, as far as possible, the use of this transport at peak times in the morning, between 6 and 8, and also recommended to companies that “try to be flexible” with schedules. To those who use it for shopping or leisure, I invited them to do it in off-peak hours, to avoid crowds.
For its part, the EMT will have 90 percent of its vehicles in service to cover the expected increase in demand, and also allow the recommended distance to be kept inside.
The increase in users has already been felt during the past week: on EMT buses it has reached 15.9 percent, while on Metro they are around 10 percent. The municipal bus company has a de-escalation plan that aims to guarantee the safety of both passengers and workers. This plan also affects other services included in the EMT, such as Bicimad, the Cable Car and the crane service.
To travel on EMT buses it is necessary to wear masks. The cars are disinfected daily, and the seats that must be left free to guarantee sufficient distance between users are marked on them. You must avoid paying the ticket in cash.
Masks and hydrogel vending machines have been installed in Metro stations
There are also recommendations for taxi and VTC: the installation of flexible plastic screens is recommended to divide the cabin. Vehicles should be cleaned at least once a day, paying particular attention to contact areas such as door handles, seat belts, and opening and closing elements.
Drivers must use face masks. Two passengers can be transported for each row of seats, guaranteeing the maximum possible distance between them, or three if they live together at the same address.
It is also possible to move by bicycle: the municipal service Bicimad was resumed weeks ago and works normally, although the use of gloves is mandatory and it is recommended to download the application to check the availability of bicycles, as well as avoid touching the supports. Carsharing vehicles also work, with the use of a mask inside. Companies commit to disinfecting them with ozone and washing them several times a day.
Parks: recover the green lung
Advancing to phase 1 also means the opening of the large parks in the region. The Mayor of the Community joined yesterday in announcing the Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida regarding spaces such as El Retiro, Casa de Campo, El Capricho or Madrid Río, among others, with the return to normality of three green lungs management in the southern area.
According to regional sources, the periurban forest parks of Valdebernardo, Polvoranca and Bosquesur will be opened, which make up a total of 581 hectares spread over the municipalities of Alcorcón, Leganés, Fuenlabrada, Getafe, Pinto and Madrid.
The return to normality, however, will not be complete and the children’s and sports areas, as well as picnic areas and various types of furniture will still be closed. Also in the capital will be Fuente del Berro, Quinta de los Molinos, the Sabatini Gardens, Torres Arias, Juan Carlos I, Juan Pablo II, Viveros, Estufas, Rosaleda, Valdebebas, Finca Tres Cantos, Parque del Oeste, Oriente, Dehesa from the Villa and the Linear Park of Manzanares.
Terraces: minimal reopening
The reopening of the terraces has occupied an important part of the de-escalation debate for weeks. Although phase 1 already allows the partial return of the activity, with the capacity limited to 50 percent, the reality is that the return will be minimal. This is stated by the Madrid Hospitality Association, which anticipates that only 5 percent of the region’s bars and restaurants will reopen.
The reason is that only 25 percent of the hospitality establishments in the Community of Madrid have watchmen in conditions to comply with the regulations on safety distance. “Most of the terraces are small, with between 6 and 8 tables at most, we do not believe that many establishments open. Yes, they want to open, but you have to understand that opening in these circumstances is a risk for all the expenses you have to bear, “explains the president of the entity, Juan José Blardony, to Ep.
In the capital, however, it is expected that in the main areas, such as Puerta de Alcalá or Plaza Mayor, the return will be notable. From Hostelería Madrid they consider that the bulk of the premises will open in phase 2, when they are already allowed to stay inside the restaurants.
Sport: neither municipal centers nor gyms
The sport in its majority will have to continue being in the street. Although phase 1 allows activity on some courts, such as tennis or paddle tennis – not doubles – the City Council of the capital will not yet open its public centers. Sources from the Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports specify that they will not be available yet, although they will be working soon.
From the Area they clarify that some outdoor centers such as Vallehermoso will be operational, as long as it is for individual use, from June 1. Isabel Díaz-Ayuso, however, yesterday asked the Central Executive that it can be practiced without the current schedule on weekends.
Municipal libraries and museums will not reopen until June, while regional ones will return tomorrow. The private ones manage their own calendars. .