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The lockdown in Spain looks set to continue for a little while longer after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the nation in a televised address on Saturday evening that he was planning to seek approval from Congress to extend the current state of alarm to May 9th after which there would be a "cautious and progressive" return to normality as the confinement measures are gradually lifted. He added that the government were looking at the possibility of children being able to leave their homes "under controlled circumstances" from April 27th but didn't go into specific details.

Sánchez said that the health system has been able to battle the virus not only due to the dedication of its staff but also to the public's response in complying with the lockdown measures which began five weeks ago. He said that tens of thousands of lives have been saved and the further spread of the virus has been contained as a result. But he warned that it could all be undone with premature decisions and admitted that now is not the time to lift the lockdown and he would be seeking authority to extend into May but added it has been proposed that children would be allowed out of the house for a limited time and subject to conditions to avoid infection but refused to go into further details. He also confirmed that the return to normality would not be same everywhere as the level and impact of a pandemic has been different in each region.

He outlined the WHO's recommended steps for a return to normality: a controlled transition and the identification of people who are infected; testing of people who could be infected and identification of their contacts; strict controls for high risk infection areas such as hospitals and residential homes; preventative measures in the workplace, schools and universities; and a full public information campaign outlining the hygiene rules and social distancing that must be followed. He said that the de-escalation of the lockdown would be "cautious and progressive" and guided by a series of markers which will highlight the level of the spread of the virus through the country and the stability of the health system in each region.

Sánchez also repeated his call for a cross-party agreement aimed at the social and economic recovery of Spain over the next few years. The main opposition party Partido Popular have been unwilling to consider a pact and have preferred directing its efforts on criticising the government for its poor handling of the health emergency. The far-right Vox, which is the third largest party, has refused to speak with the Prime Minister. But Sánchez continues to insist that "dialogue, consensus and union" is the only path to follow for the recovery of the country, a pact to address the strengthening of the health system, assistance to companies and the creation of jobs, social protection measures and a common position for negotiations with the European Union with regards to spreading national debt via "coronabonds" through the 27 member states, something which the EU has yet to agree.

He finished his TV address by stating that the country will recover - "I'm more clear about that than anything else" - and told reporters that the lockdown of Spain was the right decision to halt the spread of the virus from the most affected areas to the least. More than 20,000 people in Spain have died from Covid-19-related complications and Sanchéz paid tribute to the families of those who had lost the fight and assuring them that there would be a time to honour them. "Those families who have seen the loss of a loved one will get the deserved response from us."

Source: Original from various sources
Date: Sunday 19th April 2020





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