CORONAVIRUS

Spain’s emergency coronavirus measures to be lifted gradually

The executive could extend the state of alarm further than April 12 if transmission remains high

Deputy PM Pablo Iglesias at the news conference on Tuesday.
Deputy PM Pablo Iglesias at the news conference on Tuesday.Borja Puig de la Bellacasa / EFE
Anabel Diez|El País

The Spanish government said on Tuesday that when the state of alarm decreed to fight the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, authorities will gradually ease the confinement measures that are keeping people at home and holding back economic activity.

Introduced on March 14 for a two-week duration and prolonged due to the adverse scenario, the state of alarm will end on April 12 unless it is extended again due to persistently high contagion figures, in line with action by countries like China, which has brought its own outbreak under control.

The coronavirus has already killed 8,379 people and infected nearly 96,000 in Spain, according to official figures. Spain has the world’s second-highest death toll from the coronavirus after Italy.

On Tuesday, the Spanish executive approved a new set of measures to alleviate the effects of the economic slowdown on individuals and businesses. The measures are targeted at particularly vulnerable groups, including temporary workers and the self-employed.

Authorities also admitted that they have made “mistakes” and offered “an apology” for not informing the opposition, regional governments and social agents about their latest plans. Last month Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a €200 billion relief package that he described as “the greatest mobilization of resources in the country’s entire democratic history.”

But the new measures announced on Tuesday still need to secure congressional approval. The opposition has been criticizing the Socialist Party (PSOE) government for failing to provide information about its latest moves, and the Popular Party (PP) is threatening to vote against this latest relief package.

The Spanish government apologized for any mistakes it might have made in its handling of the coronavirus crisis

The last conversation between Prime Minister Sánchez and PP leader Pablo Casado took place 10 days ago, and the communication channels with other parties are not doing much better, save with the PSOE’s coalition partner Unidas Podemos. Even the parties that helped Sánchez get back into office following his inconclusive victory at the November election are now criticizing him for the lack of transparency.

The government on Tuesday said that its haste is based on the gravity of the situation and the need for immediate measures to tackle the current emergency. It also apologized for any mistakes it might have made.

“The government needs to adopt measures at a dizzying speed,” said government spokesperson María Jesús Montero, adding that executive wishes for “closer coordination with other political forces.”

Regarding demands for resignation from the far-right Vox party, Deputy PM Pablo Iglesias said it would not be prudent to get caught up in an argument right now, and that “when the time comes, citizens will see how each one of us responded to this health, social and economic crisis.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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