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It has finally been confirmed that, from this Sunday 26th April, children aged 14 and under will be able to leave their homes once a day for an hour of exercise and play under strict supervision by an adult, ending some six weeks of confinement since the state of alarm was put in place in the middle of last month. Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias announced details of the ministerial order which has been finalised after there was some confusion earlier in the week when the Government announced that youngsters would be able to accompany their parents to supermarkets, chemists and banks only, raising plenty of eyebrows across the nation and anger from parents eager to allow their kids to have some degree of freedom after being cooped up inside the house for weeks.

In a swift U-turn just hours after the initial announcement, the Health Minister Salvador Illa confirmed that children would be allowed to go for walks after all and today the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed the details after apologizing directly to the children. "We have not been completely clear about how you will be able to leave as of Sunday. I know the confinement has not been easy for you and I want to thank you. You have played an important role in the fight against the coronavirus so that we can return as a society and all of society owes you a very big round of applause.”

The details of the order, which should be approved on Saturday, allow an adult to be able to take up to three children out of the house to "walk, run, jump, play sport" and they will be able take toys such as a ball or a scooter. They can venture as far as one kilometre from their front door but playgrounds will remain out of bounds. Children living outside of towns and cities will be able to go for a walk in the woods and countryside. However, the Health Minister added that these outings can only be carried out under strict control to adhere for the three principles put in place to fight the spread of the virus: social distancing of 1.5 to 2 metres must be maintained, hands must be washed frequently and strict hygiene protocols must be observed when using public spaces. Face masks are recommended on top of these three measures, not instead of them. Parents should avoid taking their children out during peak hours.

The responsible adult does not necessarily have to be a parent; it could be an older sibling, but whoever does accompany the children must make sure that the youngsters follow the safety measures. Those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection must remain at home. With regards to young people aged 15 and over, they can leave the house for essential journeys such as visits to the supermarket, chemist, etc.

On Wednesday evening Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez received the support of the Congress of Deputies to extend the state of alarm to Saturday 9th May. He warned that a return to normality would be a slow and gradual process and refused to rule out imposing further lockdowns in the future if the situation calls. He confirmed that the confinement would not be lifted until Spain was ready. He also repeated his calls on opposition parties to come together and form a pact to work towards the economic recovery of the country after the crisis has abated, adding that the Government would not claim any achievements as their own but as a collective success. No date has been set for debating the "reconstruction" of the country but they could take place at the beginning of May. But, whilst supporting the extension, Popular Party leader Pablo Casado accused the government of "incompetence" in its management of the crisis, claiming that many deaths might have been prevented by implementing the state of alarm earlier. "This not a war, it's a catastrophe."

Source: Original text from various sources
Date: Thursday 23rd April 2020





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