CORONAVIRUS

Half of all Spaniards fear losing their jobs over coronavirus crisis

Bank of Spain warns that the economy will experience “an unprecedented disturbance” due to the pandemic

Madrid's Gran Vía, normally a hub of activity, is largely deserted due to the lockdown.
Madrid's Gran Vía, normally a hub of activity, is largely deserted due to the lockdown.Jesús Hellín / EP

More than half of all Spaniards (50.8%) are afraid of losing their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis, according to an online survey conducted by the polling firm 40dB for EL PAÍS.

The survey found that a majority also believes it is likely that their company will have to shut down for the duration of the pandemic.

As though confirming the fears, the Bank of Spain on Friday warned that the economy will experience “an unprecedented disturbance.” Governor Pablo Hernández de Cos said that the intensity of the crisis’ effects will be “uncertain” but “considerable.”

Earlier this week the government announced a €200 billion relief plan to combat the effects of the pandemic, and on Thursday Madrid said it was transferring €210 million to regional governments, who have devolved powers over healthcare in Spain.

Around two months after the first known local transmission of the new coronavirus, the number of infections pushed past 17,000 on Thursday night, while deaths reached 803, confirming Spain as one of the countries with the biggest outbreaks. More than 1,100 patients had recovered after developing the Covid-19 disease.

The survey shows that Spaniards are more scared about the economic fallout of the crisis than about its impact on their health. Over half of respondents (53%) said they thought it unlikely that they would catch the virus. And if they did, 68% said they were certain that they would recover.

Despite the apparent lack of concern, seven out of 10 respondents said they were carefully observing the stay-at-home orders issued by the government on Saturday, following the declaration of a state of alarm that placed the entire country on lockdown.

Although the confinement orders have led to the closure of most retail businesses, as well as museums and other attractions, a few hotels remain open to accommodate the thousands of tourists who are still in Spain, including around 100,000 in the Canary and Balearic Islands.

But on Thursday night the executive issued orders for all hotels and similar establishments to shut down by March 26. In Madrid, two hotels have been converted into makeshift wards for patients with mild symptoms in a bid to help overburdened hospitals.

Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said on Friday morning that the government is repatriating Spaniards from Asia, the Americas and Europe, some of whom have complained of feeling abandoned by Spanish authorities as they race to find ways to get back home.

English version by Susana Urra.

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