Camino de Santiago and Covid-19
The Camino de Santiago is being affected by Covid-19 once again. After a summer in which pilgrims were able to go back to the Jacobean Routes, autumn presents itself full of uncertainty with a new wave of coronavirus hitting Spain.
With a worrying increase in the number of active cases in Spain, restrictions regarding services and mobility in the Camino de Santiago are becoming quite frequent.
New closure in Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela once again suffers a perimeter closure. After the increase in cases due to Covid-19 in recent days, the capital of Galicia regresses and returns to a medium level with the consequent closure of its borders. Only people with just cause such as work or health reasons may enter or leave the city of the Apostle.
The perimeter closure is maintained in the other Jacobean cities of Galicia: Vigo, A Coruña, Ferrol, Pontevedra and Lugo. In addition, Galicia will oblige all people who come from communities with incidents above 250 to fill out the travelers' register.
Registration is mandatory for all people from risk areas and optional for other people arriving from outside the community. From this list, the Galician Health Service can summon the people it deems necessary.
From the Xunta de Galicia they remind the pilgrims who are currently doing the Camino de Santiago that they can pass in transit through the perimeter territories, as long as it is to follow their Camino. That is, they can cross the territory but not stay overnight or make use of other services such as bars or restaurants.
State of alarm and curfew in Spain
On October 25th the Government of Spain decreed the State of Alarm throughout the Spanish territory. This decision also implies a mobility restrictions at the following hours: from 11:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m. During these hours no one will be able to move from their homes except for just cause: they will be able to circulate for work or professional reasons; to buy medicines; or for the care of elderly or minors.
Despite the general limitation, the autonomies will have a margin of one hour to define the schedules in the different regions. Thus, they will be able to advance the start at 22.00 - as in Catalonia - or delay it at 00.00 -as in Madrid-; and advance the end of the restriction at 05.00 or delay it at 7.00.
The state of alarm and curfew will be in effect until May 9, 2021, but the restrictions could be lifted if the sanitary situation got better during the upcoming months.
Restrictions in Spain
After the rebound in cases at Christmas, the different territories of Spain are imposing different restrictions to try to stop this third contagion curve.
In Galicia, the perimeter closure of its borders has been decreed until the end of the month. In addition, the authorities have recommended the "self-confinement" of the population to avoid an increase in cases or make the fewest possible exits. This is the same decision that the governments of La Rioja and Aragón have taken, which will maintain the perimeter closure until January 31. In Navarra it will end on January 14, although it is possible that it will be extended depending on the registered cases.
For its part, Castilla y León will maintain the closure of its borders until May, at which time the curfew is scheduled to be lifted.
The Basque Country does not allow trips outside the autonomous community until the state of alarm ends and, for the moment, it is not possible to make interprovincial trips either. And Asturias maintains the perimeter closure. Cantabria set the deadline for the closure of borders on January 16 but the regional government has already assured that it will be extended depending on the cases.
Andalusia has also decided to establish a perimeter closure throughout the autonomous community and Extremadura, in the most affected municipalities. For their part, Catalonia and Valencia have established perimeter closures of their municipalities. Madrid allows entry and exit, except for 41 basic health areas and 14 locations with more incidence, where travel is completely restricted.
Restrictions across Europe
The second wave of the coronavirus does not affect only Spain, this week France replaced national confinement with a night curfew between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., which will continue until January 20 except for December 24. In addition, all non-essential activity is paralyzed.
Since January 4, the United Kingdom has experienced a general confinement due to the new strain of the coronavirus. A similar situation occurs in Germany, where the high number of infections has forced the government to establish strict confinement until January 31. If the situation does not improve, the confinement could be extended until April. This measure implies the closure of non-essential businesses.
For its part, Portugal returns to home confinement since Friday, January 15. Although the initial duration of this closure is 15 days, it is expected that it will be renewed according to the health situation. The Portuguese government believes that the confinement will be at least one month.
In Italy a total stoppage of activities has not been decreed, but there are restrictions that affect mobility. The Italian government has decreed a curfew at six in the afternoon, the closure of shopping centers on weekends, or prohibiting mobility between regions except for justified reasons.
In the Netherlands, the population will be confined until January 19, with the closure of all non-essential activity.
In view of the situation, from the Camino con Correos we recommend not doing the Camino de Santiago these days, given the complicated situation caused by Covid-19 and the diversity of restrictions according to territories. However, we leave you some tips in case you want to organize your Camino in future dates.
Guidelines for those who are still on the Camino
The Federación de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago suggests that pilgrims postpone their plans to go to the Camino de Santiago. At the same time, the Federación has launched an informative campaign about the Covid-19 situation in the Camino through their website.
From El Camino con Correos we suggest that all pilgrims who are still on the Camino de Santiago be very careful and be alert when it comes to safety measures and restrictions adopted by the different territories. For those who are on the Camino de Santiago, here are some keys to do it safely.
1. Booking at albergues on the Camino
One of the changes derived from this ‘new normal’ after Covid-19 is the recommendation to book ahead a place at albergues or other types of accommodation to spend the night on the Camino. That will ensure that the pilgrims finds availble spots and open accommodation.
This year part of the accommodation along the Camino may not be open, and most will have a bed limit, so we suggest making sure beforehand of the places where we want to spend the night. You can find a list with over 4.000 albergues, hotels and hostels on our website, with phone numbers and e-mail addresses so you can plan ahead.
Also, the Xunta de Galicia has created a website (https://alberguesxacobeo.gal/) where you can check availability and book a place at public albergues. There is a phone number, as well: (+34) 881 250 888.
It should be noted that only 50% of the spots will be available compared to what the have offered other years, since they have had to adapt to the new security and hygiene rules: limiting space, equipment, public spaces… According to the Consellería, pilgrims will now be able to book a reservation from the day before to 1pm. of the same day. From then, if there are remaining spots, they will be available for pilgrims who arrive without reservation.
Meanwhile, the Asociación de Albergues Privados de Galicia (Agalber) has created a map and listing of all all albergues that will be available throughout the different Caminos during the winter months. You can check it out here.
The Red de Albergues del Camino has also updated its website with information about open albergues this summer. They also have an APP that you can download if you want to have that information on hand.
Pilgrims who choose the Camino Francés will be able to find out in real time the free places in the hostels. It will be possible thanks to the LOT Hostels initiative, promoted by the Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago (AMCS) in collaboration with the Government of Navarra, Aragón, La Rioja, Castilla y León and the Galician Association of Private Hostels (Agalber).
The Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago has also launched July 1st their “Albergues Seguros” (“Safe Albergues”) campaign, assisting and giving advise to the network of traditional and municipal albergues about the sanitary requirements that have arised since Covid-19. For this campaign, in which Correos has also collaborated, a series of posters has been ellaborated, that can be found throughout their network of albergues, with all the suggestions that will make the albergues a safe place.
Besides, they have also created an interactive map with the location and contact of the Network of Safe Albergues that can be found on their website: https://www.amcsantiago.com/. This map is updated weekly including all available albergues.
On Aprinca's website there is also a list of albergues that will be open on the Camino Francés between the months of November and February. You can check it out here.
2. Rucksack transfer on the Camino
Correos has also put in place the backpack and suitcase transportation service from stage to stage on the Camino. Our Paq Mochila is now available on from Sarria to Santiago, with all safety measures. Our delivery staff has received training in Covid-19 and we give them daily IPE needed to ensure a safe delivery: FFP2 masks, hydroalcoholic gel, disinfectant for the vehicles…
We also have an online form available for pilgrims (www.paqmochila.com) so they can book their reservation and pay safely via credit card or PayPal, avoiding cash.
Pilgrims also have access to other Correos’ services on the Camino such as the Paq Bicicleta for bycicle transportation to and from the Camino, luggage storage to leave their things when in Santiago or the Paq Peregrino, to send suitcases, backpacks and packages to the over 150 post offices throughout the Camino.
3. Visits to the Cathedral of Santiago
The Cathedral of Santiago reopened its doors on December 30, 2020. With the arrival of Xacobeo 2021 and the celebration of the 120th Compostela Holy Year in its history, the Cathedral will once again wear its best clothes.
After the restoration works, the Compostela temple can be visited from 9am to 8.30pm.
4. Pilgrim’s mass
The pilgrim's mass returns to the Cathedral of Santiago. Every day is celebrated in two hours: 12:00 and 19:30.
5. Obtaining the Compostela
The Pilgrim’s Reception Office, the place in Rúa Carretas where the Compostela is obtained, will be open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm.
During that time pilgrims can visit the centre and request the Compostela after certifying finishing the Camino by showing the Credential.
The procedure for collecting the Compostela has undergone slight variations to guarantee the safety of the pilgrims and the staff of the center itself. We detail the steps to follow:
- Pre-registration. Before going to the Pilgrim's Office, a pre-registration must be made on the website www.oficinadelperegrino.com indicating all the information that is requested to certify the pilgrimage to Santiago (name, Camino made, starting point ...).
- Take a turn. Once at the Pilgrim's Office you must withdraw the ticket with your turn.
- Check the queue. Check the QR code that appears on your ticket, which will indicate the approximate time you can pick up your Compostela. This way you will know what time you have to report, which will allow you to avoid long waits as well as causing crowds at the Office.
- Pick up your Compostela. Go to the Pilgrim's Office at the indicated time and collect your Compostela
You can also find our post office at the Pilgrim’s Office where you can send your bycicles, suitcases, etc. or buy stamps, cards and souvenirs.
6. Thinking about the Xacobeo 2021
Many of you are pilgrims who ask us about Xacobeo 2021. After eleven years without celebrating a Holy Year, next 2021 will be a very important year for the Camino de Santiago and the Jacobean community. If you want to know more about the Xacobeo and the Holy Year, here are some curiosities.
As planned, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago will open on December 31 for thousands of pilgrims to obtain the plenary indulgence. There are many voices that have requested that the Holy Year be extended until 2022 although, for the moment, the Pope - who is the one who has the competence to authorize said extension - has not spoken.
We have twelve months to enjoy this unique date in which, of course, we must continue to take extreme precautions and respect the hygienic-sanitary measures that are established at all times.
Looking ahead to the next Holy Year, the Cathedral of Santiago and the Xunta de Galicia have announced that the Pilgrim's Digital Credential will come into operation. The online certificate will coexist with the traditional paper Credential and will allow you to collect the necessary stamps to obtain the Compostela through QR codes. You can read more about its future operation here.
With the launch of the Digital Credential during the next Xacobeo 2021, it seeks to guarantee a safer Camino de Santiago against Covid-19, avoiding the greatest number of contacts between pilgrims and hospitaleros.
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