CORONAVIRUS

Spain may allow confined citizens out for walks on May 2, says PM

But Pedro Sánchez warns that the new easing of restrictions will depend on whether contagion figures keep going down

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the news conference on Saturday night.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the news conference on Saturday night.EFE

Spaniards will be allowed to go out for exercise and for walks starting on May 2 if coronavirus contagion figures go down, said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at a press conference on Saturday night.

This is the second time that the Spanish government has moved to ease strict confinement measures that have been in place since March 14. On Sunday, children up to the age of 13 will be allowed out for an hour every day with an adult.

“If we act with prudence, this first relief measure will be followed by another one a week later,” said Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), who leads a coalition government in partnership with the leftist Unidas Podemos. “If the evolution of the pandemic keeps moving in a positive manner, starting on May 2 outings will be allowed for individual activity and for walks with the people that we live with.”

Sánchez said that the deescalation of confinement measures will take place throughout May, “and we will see what happens in the month of June.”

“I would like to convey to you the importance of being cautious. This is not a race to see who is the first to reopen a shopping mall or a small business establishment.”

Sánchez explained that the deescalation will occur at different speeds depending on the situation in each region. “In the deescalation, we will not all advance at the same speed, but according to the same rules,” he said. "We will do it at different speeds depending on [the situation] of the pandemic in each place, in an asymmetric but coordinated fashion. We will do it as a team.”

The prime minister added that the central government will be responsible for the deescalation plan, despite complaints from regional leaders in Catalonia and the Basque Country, who want more control over how the measures are rolled out.

The Spanish Cabinet is set to approve the deescalation plan on Tuesday.

Daily coronavirus deaths have been below 400 for two days, down from highs of more than 600 in recent weeks. But the pandemic has hit Spain hard: the official death toll is 22, 902 and the number of registered infections is 223,759 although unreported deaths at senior residences and private homes could mean the real numbers are significantly higher.

Recent figures also show that 20% of Covid-19 infections are among healthcare workers, much higher than in other countries, a fact that experts blame on poor planning and a shortage of protective gear and testing kits.

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