The Government relaxes the obligation of gas stations to maintain their regular hours. The BOE publishes this Saturday a ministerial order establishing measures to ensure the supply of fuel at service stations while the state of alarm is maintained. However, it gives the possibility that some of them reduce opening hours or even temporarily close if they consider it to be so.
The norm establishes that around half of the gas stations will be able to freely set their schedules during the state of alarm, “taking into account the significant decrease in the demand for automotive fuels since the declaration.” Another 37% will maintain their usual schedule. The criterion has been set based on criteria such as sales volume, the strategic location of the service station or its special link with the transport sector or hospital centers.
The Government thus picks up the petition from the flag-bearing gas station employers who had demanded the establishment of minimum services that would avoid “the bankruptcy of hundreds” of gas stations. The Spanish Confederation of Service Station Entrepreneurs (CEEES) requested that the supply of essential services be guaranteed, “while allowing service stations that so wish to temporarily close their businesses.”
The order establishes three groups of gas stations to determine their opening obligations. The first group consists of those service stations that, in any case, must be maintained open during the hours they usually provide, without being able to modify it. They are the gas stations with a sales volume of more than 5 million liters per year, those located on motorways and highways or in hypermarkets; automated facilities, refueling points with hospitality contracts for carriers, gas stations that supply less common automotive fuels – such as liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) – and also those gas stations that are located in “strategic environments”, such as hospitals or logistics parks. Of the 11,676 service stations registered in the registry of Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, meet one or more of the criteria of this first group 4,334 stations, 37% of the total.
The second group of gas stations is formed by those service stations that will have the obligation to open at least 30 hours a week, with a minimum of five hours a day from Monday to Saturday. They are service stations in municipalities that, as a result of applying the criteria of the first group, there would be no facilities available. According to data from the ministry, some 1,686 gas stations, that is, 14% of the total, must open meeting these requirements.
The rest of the gas stations not included in either the first or the second group will be the ones that will be able to make their schedules more flexible, even closing temporarily, if they deem it appropriate.
Changes in gas station hours for both the second and third groups must be previously communicated to the Ministry for Ecological Transition so that it is updated on the Geoportal Gasolineras platform and, thus, can be consulted by citizens at any time. Likewise, this new schedule must be visibly announced at the supply point itself.
The ministry points out that the relationships of service stations included in each category may be modified during the state of alarm if specific needs are insufficiently covered.