Life in Andorra with COVID-19

Like all other countries in the world, Andorra was hit with COVID-19 waves as well. As compared to several other countries, however, Andorra has been able to deal with the situation pretty well with sufficient initial restrictions along with widespread testing.

A large part of the population has now been vaccinated and the situation has been quite positive overall.

Moving to Andorra amid this can seem challenging, but the COVID-19 response and resources provided have been highly effective, making it an even better country to consider living in than it was a few years ago.

Let’s take a look at how the COVID-19 situation has been in Andorra from early 2020 to now.

Response

How did the government in Andorra respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? What restrictions were put in place and how were resources distributed? We can take a look at some of these responses in further detail below, along with the responses of the general population as well.

Largely, the response from both the government and the citizens has been positive and cooperative, which led to a relatively better situation in Andorra as compared to other parts of Europe (or even the world).

During the pandemic the government has given it’s residents an update on the situation at least daily. This has come from both the prime minister, and the health minister.

Communication has been excellent. During a difficult time, the ministers have gone above and beyond to keep citizens and residents well informed. Even while confined to his home, health minister Joan Martínez Benazet continued to provide updates via webcam.

Andorra's health minister provides an update via webcam from home quarantine.
Andorra’s health minister provides an update via webcam from home quarantine. Photo: Govern d’Andorra

Initial Restrictions

The first case of COVID-19 in Andorra was reported on March 2, 2020. Around mid-March, the government of Andorra closed schools and public establishments for a period of two weeks.

They also placed restrictions on movement, with only essential trips permitted to the residents. The borders were also sealed to prevent the entry of foreign nationals into the country.

Education and work moved online. Higher education and construction work was also halted for the time being. Only essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations remained open.

Testing

Andorra’s testing measures have been applauded worldwide. Mass screening for antibodies was carried out in May 2020 across two surveys, in which a majority of the population participated.

This was completed in facilities known as ‘Stop Labs’, where residents would not have to leave their car for testing. No fees were associated for these tests.

Overall, around 2,500 tests were conducted per 1,000 people, a rate which continues even today.

This kind of prevalent testing has been helpful in identifying the positive cases and treating the people immediately, allowing Andorra to deal with the distribution of healthcare resources in an effective way.

Healthcare

The healthcare system in Andorra contributes to the good quality of life of the citizens of Andorra. The government covers the healthcare costs at different rates for its citizens and active residents through its Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social (CASS) system.

This kind of coverage and reimbursement is provided for hospital visits, hospitalization, accidents, dental costs, medicines and more.

For dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government began to issue face masks at a subsidised rate through CASS cards. They also provided protective equipment for healthcare workers. Testing through government facilities was free of charge.

The government also sought to provide CASS coverage for workers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Resources

The government of Andorra spent sufficient resources on obtaining antibody and COVID-19 tests along with masks for citizens and protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Support was given to businesses and professionals to deal with the financial blows of the pandemic. Additionally, certain delays were permitted in paying bills and fines with the relaxation of certain fines taking place as well.

Apart from that, most transactions became digital, but markets remained open to allow people to buy essential goods with proper social distancing.

Current Situation

While life was halted for a period of time, Andorra’s response allowed the country to slowly open up again.

While there are still a few restrictions in place, the situation now is much more in control and stable as compared to other parts of the world. Residents of Andorra have a great deal of freedom, with life nearing ‘normal’ status again.

Let’s take a look at how the situation looks like today.

Andorra's Health Minister, Joan Martínez Benazet receiving his AstraZeneca vaccine.
Andorra’s Health Minister, Joan Martínez Benazet receiving his AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: Govern d’Andorra

Number of Cases

The total cumulative number of cases in Andorra has passed 15,000; approximately 20% of the population. However, the rate of new cases is quite low with a good number of recoveries taking place as well.

The mortality rate is now quite low as well, especially as compared to the beginning of the pandemic and to the death rate in other countries across Europe and the rest of the world.

This has allowed public spaces across the country to open up while still maintaining a few distancing norms.

Economy

The economy of Andorra has opened up again with public establishments and spaces opening up again, even though there are still a few necessary restrictions in place to control any further spread or a re-peak of the virus.

The pandemic challenged businesses in Andorra to begin working online, as well as many government departments. Online workplaces continue to flourish with several workplaces (especially essential services) returning to serve the citizens in person.

Public transport is essentially back to normal, although some forms of transport have restricted capacities.

The financial system with its tax benefits also continues to serve as an advantage for the citizens of Andorra.

Access

Access to most kinds of public life has been established again, including parks, restaurants, sports centers, transport and more.

Moreover, the tourism sector has also opened up with tourists from other parts of the world being allowed to enter Andorra without needing to quarantine (with a few exceptions) as long as they have received their vaccination doses and have the relevant documents with them.

This has the potential of boosting the economy even further.

People also no longer need to wear masks outdoors as long as they can maintain a respectable distance from other people around them.

Education

Educational institutes have also opened up once again, including schools as well as higher education institutes.

Measures have been put into place to ensure that students continue to receive their education in a safe and secure way. Social distancing and masks are required in some situations but younger children are exempt from this.

Vaccination

In Andorra, over 67% of the population more than 16 years old has been fully vaccinated against the virus. Further, more than 76% of the population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

This is a great rate that has been achieved due to the supply of vaccines as well as the population density.

Andorra Coronavirus Vaccination
Source: Govern d’Andorra

Moreover, vaccinations for younger adolescents aged 12 to 15 have also opened up. Testing and screening continue to take place to control the spread of the virus.

These tests are also recommended to be carried out before any major gathering.

Restrictions

Despite several restrictions being lifted in Andorra, some necessary restrictions continue to be in place to ensure safety. For instance, people still need to maintain social distancing outdoors as well as indoors as far as possible.

Masks are no longer necessary to be worn outdoors, but they are required if social distancing is not possible in a given situation. People are still required to wear masks indoors.

Additionally, many public establishments and transport facilities operate with limited entry. This means that only a certain defined number of people can enter a place (such as a restaurant or cafe) at a given time.

A Changing Scenario

Overall, residents of Andorra feel very lucky to have lived through the pandemic in a country that has respected it’s people.

Further to this, we feel privileged for the access that we have to the outdoors during social distancing measures. While we have had our fair share of challenges, overall it seems residents of Andorra have enjoyed a more livable existence during the pandemic.

As compared to other parts of the world, Andorra is in a great place right now in terms of COVID-19, making it a reliable and wonderful place to move to if you are considering it.

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