Adeje beach reopenings

Adeje beach reopenings

Adeje 24 May 2020

 

Adeje will open their beaches in a phased manner during next week

 

The Council is calling on everyone to behave responsibly to ensure that beaches and bathing zones will not become infection hotspots

 

Following the approval of Order SND/440/2020, dated May 23rd, under which the Canary Islands has passed to Phase 2 of the de-escalation, and following meetings with technicians and the companies operating the concessions, Adeje council will open up the coastline in a phased manner next week. This gradual reopening over the coming days should mean that by next Friday all of the borough’s beaches will be open.

 

The decision is reflective of the prudence and precautions that have characterised the manner in which the council have managed this health crisis from the start.  The priority is and has been the health and safety of the people and in that regard the council is calling upon everyone who will be going to the beach to behave responsibly.

 

 

The Adeje council wants to ensure that the return to the beaches is done in as relaxed a manner as possible within the new normality, and that everyone takes care of their health.  That’s why the council have decided to use information as a tool, calling on people in general to be responsible and use their common sense.  Under the slogan (translated) ‘Our destination needs you to behave responsibly’, the council will be reminding people that the way we act today in these public spaces will determine our future – firstly as regards the health of the population, secondly in how it might affect the economy of the borough.

 

The measures that Adeje council will implement along the beaches will include posters in different languages, information will be shared by megaphone too, and through this it is hoped that the beach users will become aware of the need for certain behaviours to help avoid any risk of infection or new outbreaks of the virus.  Smoking on the beach is now forbidden, pets cannot come to the beach either (as has always been the case), showers and foot showers may not be used, you can’t bring a portable fridge either (though snacks will be permitted). Ball play and lilos are also not allowed at this time of the de-escalation, and use of a towel on the beach is mandatory.  There will be no sunbed hire until the protocols regarding cleaning and disinfection are in place to ensure hygienic safety for all users, as well as for the environment.  It is also recommended that no-one is on the beach for more than two to three hours, to avoid overcrowding and to allow all those who wish to use the beach to do so in safety and without risk.  Everyone is reminded that social distancing between people and family units is the main tool by which we can avoid the spread of Covid-19.

 

The conditions under which the beaches can open are cleanliness, safety and maintenance, as well as the implementation of the anti-Covid 19 measures established by the department and the regional government to avoid, as much as possible, any infections. Remember that the beaches (apart from a few exceptions) have not been cleaned since the start of the period of confinement. In recent weeks the borough’s water company have been carrying out an analysis of all the beaches and bathing zones ahead of their possible reopening, and all of the results have confirmed that the waters are suitable for bathing.

 

Regarding security, do remember that the lifeguard services will only be available from 10am to 6pm, and some bathing areas do not have a lifeguard service, and that will be pointed out in posters which will be going up over the coming days.

 

From tomorrow, Monday May 25th, recreational use of the following beaches, already open for sports and walking, will be allowed – Fañabe beach, La Enramada beach, and the La Caleta sport zone.  When the rest of the beaches and bathing areas have been thoroughly cleaned and security measures are in place they will also be opened.  It is important to remember that the central government decree was published yesterday and all of the measures cannot be implemented immediately, as in some cases there are procedures to be observed to ensure safety and security, in the decisions taken and in how they are to be carried out.

 

The opening of the beaches was originally announced for the start of Phase 3 of the de-escalation but was brought forward by the government, but still must be executed with caution and prudence.

 

The Adeje council is not ruling out the introduction of new measures in future weeks regarding the beach use by the public.

 

 

 

 

Department of Communications

 

Adeje to create 400 jobs over the coming months

Adeje to create 400 jobs over the coming months

Adeje 22 May 2020

Adeje plans to create 400 jobs over the next 11 months

The fundamental objective is to reactivate the economy, and Adeje have earmarked 8 million euro for local sustainable projects

This year Adeje will spend €88.4 million – €90.5 million.  The council will readjust investments, continue to offer flexible payment schemes for local taxes for families in difficulties, reduce certain taxes such as rubbish collection, and use the 2019 budget surplus.

This important financial injection into the local economy will come from two sources: the ordinary budgetary funds and use of the 2019 surplus, which is about €10 million.  The use of this latter source of money hasn’t been done prior to 2020 and the council will be using the maximum allowed under law, to address social emergencies – €2 million – and invest in sustainable economies.  €8 million will go towards the reactivation of the sectors most hit by the crisis and to propel the revival of small and medium businesses which will also stimulate the economy.

Councillor for the development of territory local development and employment, Manuel Luis Méndez, commented, “one of the priorities in the creation of this year’s budget estimates has been the creation and protection of employment and Adeje businesses, many of whom having already benefited from a specialised consultation during these months, and taking into account the situation of the many workers who have contacted the department.  Our motivation is to recover, improve and defend out productive sector and uphold the diversification of the economy so that the recovery can be progressive, safe and beneficial”.

The sections of the budget that have increased most are those relating to employment training, and help to avoid job loss,  training to increase employment potential and help for small businesses and the self-employed, with an investment of €3.6 million, a 270% increase on funding for the same sectors last year. 2019. This additional funding will be in conjunction with other administrations, and the aim is to create 400 new jobs over the coming 11 months as well as save a further 400 jobs in danger of being lost, with direct assistance to businesses and the self´-employed.  

Among the projects outlined there is attention to those businesses who have during the state of emergency, with co-ordination planned between Adeje council and other administrations, such as the Tenerife Cabildo.  There are also courses to adapt to the new digital economy already open for registration, such as IT training, online sales, etc. This kind of training was already being offered but has been adapted somewhat to the new needs and measures that are now in place as a result of Covid-19.

 Adeje council is looking to use €8 million from the budget surplus in sustainable investments, rolling out a number of different investments in small and medium infrastructures.  The money will also be used to improve public spaces and in projects designed to reactivate the economy, avoid the collapse of local companies and recoup existing jobs.

There are plans for the evolution of ‘green’ employment, based in what is now the Parque Central, as an essential element for the future of the borough.  Another project to generate employment will be hiring people to work on embellishment of neighbourhoods in Adeje, with the strong involvement of residents in each zone.  Converting neighbourhoods into shared community spaces will be one of the main objectives of this plan.

The following project will see work on the elimination of architectural barriers in public buildings and zones where people with reduced mobility have difficulties. 

All of these employment plans will be carried out by the Adeje council and the council funding, with contracts for up to 200 people, and we hope to be able to double that number when conventions with the Cabildo and the regional government have been agreed upon.

In parallel with these employment plans there are three alternative training programmes (PFAE) in creation, underwritten by the Canarian employment services and the Adeje council.  One will be in bar and restaurant work for those over 30, there will be a course in lifesaving for under 30s and one in socio-cultural entertainment for under 30s.  All in all 45 people who are currently unemployed (15 on each course) will be one these courses lasting 11 months and paying 75% of a minimum wage.

 

 

Companies and the Coronavirus

At the end of 2019 Adeje had 2,230 self-employed workers and 1,164 merchant businesses, and in March of this year the council did send a questionnaire to companies asking how they were faring since the state of emergency was declared. To date 300 replies have been received, which are helping the relevant departments assess how the current measures in place are affecting the commercial life of the borough.  

 

The main objective was to help companies clarify the difficulties the many of the new measures were creating, and the council also sought to see which companies would now look to sell online offering help where they could.  Over 100 companies signed up and are using the Adeje platform to sell to the consumer, and that option is still open to companies to use today.   The council has also been helping those Adeje-based workers who have found themselves unemployed or on the ERTE as a result of the state of emergency, and to date has carried out over 1,000 consultations over the phone or online.

Coronavirus in Spain full update (19 May)

Coronavirus in Spain full update (19 May)

CORONAVIRUS in SPAIN – today’s figures

The latest official figures* for Coronavirus (Covid-19) released by Spain’s Health Ministryin Madrid at 5pm on Tuesday 19 May confirm that 27,778 people have now died from the pandemic in Spain, up by 83 on yesterday.

Monday had seen an increase of 59 Coronavirus-related deaths over Sunday – the lowest daily increase for two months. Sunday had been an increase of 87 over Saturday. Saturday had been 102.

The current peak of recorded deaths related to Coronavirus in a 24-hour period in Spain was on 2 April, when 950 deaths were registered.

Official figures released daily by the Spanish Health Ministry are for the total number of people who have tested positive for Coronavirus only through a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction). That figure for Tuesday 19 May is 232,037 – an increase of 295 over yesterday.

Monday’s figure for the increase of infections only through PCR had been 285 over Sunday. Sunday’s comparative figure had been 421 over Saturday. Saturday had been 539.

The current peak of recorded infections for a 24-hour period in Spain was on 31 March, when 9,222 new cases were registered (including from PCR and antibody).

The Health Ministry has not released a figure for the number of people who have made a full recovery.

With regards the official figures released by the central Health Ministry for each region of Spain, there have been discrepancies in the data released independently by some of those regions, particularly for Madrid and Catalonia. Please refer to *Health Ministry data and regional discrepancies below.

Of the official figures released by the ministry today – and based only on the total 232,037 confirmed cases through PCR testing – there have now been 66,643 cases in the Madrid region and where 8,894 have died (from the total 27,650 across the country). There have been 55,825 cases in Catalonia and where 5,981 have died.

There are now 13,409 known cases in the Basque Country (1,470 deaths), 12,471 in Andalusia (1,358), 16,677 in Castilla La Mancha (2,900) and 10,962 in the Valencia region (1,370).

Figures for those infected with Coronavirus in other regions are now as follows: Aragón 5,520 (843 deaths), Asturias 2,373 (303 deaths), Balearic Islands 2,005 (219), Canary Islands 2,294 (155), Cantabria 2,273 (208), Castilla y León 18,549 (1,960), Ceuta 117 (4), Extremadura 2,953 (504), Galicia 9,058 (607), Melilla 121 (2), Murcia 1,558 (145), Navarra 5,202 (503) and La Rioja 4,027 (352).

A full breakdown in Spanish of the data per region, together with age group statistics can be found by clicking here. Please also see Health Ministry data and discrepancies below.

ALSO READ: Lifting of lockdown in Spain – full details of all phases & regions

Pedro Sánchez and Inés Arrimadas
Pedro Sánchez with Inés Arrimadas on 16 December 2019, after a meeting following the November elections in Spain. (Photo @CiudadanosCs / Twitter)

CORONAVIRUS in SPAIN

Sánchez secures support from Ciudadanos (Cs) for two week extension to ‘state of alarm’

The Spanish government led by socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has reached an agreement with the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, led by Inés Arrimadas, to support a further two week extension to the ‘state of alarm’ until 7 June.

The full debate and vote will be held in the Spanish Congress on Wednesday 20 May. It will be the fifth time that the ‘state of alarm’ has been extended.

Each time the ‘state of alarm’ has been extended up to now, it has been for two weeks at a time. However, in a televised address on Saturday, Sánchez announced he would be seeking an extension for a month to last until the end of the four-phase de-escalation of lockdown restrictions.

‘The path that we are taking is the only one possible,’ he had said. He has always insisted that the ‘state of alarm’ is necessary in order to effectively carry out (and enforce) his government’s four-phase plan over a period of eight weeks, and in order to return the country to a ‘new normality’ by the end of June.

Daily figures for Coronavirus in Spain, however, have been improving significantly in recent days – possibly reflecting that the gradual relaxing of restrictions from total lockdown to Phase Zero, and now from Zero to Phase One for 70% of the Spanish population, has not had a negative impact on the spread of the virus.

There has also been considerable criticism of the Spanish Health Ministry from the Madridregional government, for not yet allowing the city to move to Phase One – as well as pressure from other institutions to kickstart the economy and the all-important tourist season in Spain. In addition, for several days running, small but growing protests have been taking place in some areas of Madrid against the ‘state of alarm’ – and which started in the affluent Barrio de Salamanca of the capital. [See our report of 15 May].

Inés Arrimadas
Inés Arrimadas, leader of the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, in the Spanish Congress on 6 May 2020. (Congreso.es)

In exchange for the Ciudadanos (Cs) party’s 10 favourable votes, the government has stated that it will assess possible de-escalation alternatives that do not require a further period of the ‘state of alarm’ after 7 June.

Each extension of the ‘state of alarm’ requires a vote in the Spanish Congress, with just a simple majority in the 350-seat chamber – more yes votes than no votes.

For the last vote in Congress on 6 May, the PSOE-Podemos coalition government of Sánchez had to rely on last minute deals with the Ciudadanos (Cs) party and the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) to secure the fourth extension, which expires after midnight on 23 May.

Votes in favour of the last extension were 178, with 75 voting against, and with 97abstentions. The right-wing People’s Party (PP) abstained in the vote. The Catalan pro-independence parties and the far-right Vox party had voted against.

When the Spanish Congress had voted on 22 April to extend the ‘state of alarm’ until 9 May, however, there had been 269 votes in favour, 60 against, with 16 abstentions.

Previous voting on 9 April to extend the ‘state of alarm’ until 26 April had resulted in 270votes in favour, 54 against, with 25 abstentions.

Mossos d'Esquadra
After the lockdown in Spain was first extended to 11 April, the Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra) are seen carrying out more road check. (Photo @mossos / Twitter)

Spain originally commenced its lockdown for two weeks from 14 March, with measures that confined everyone to their homes apart from leaving to purchase food or medication, or to go to their place of work only if they could not perform their duties from home. After one week, these initial measures were then extended until 12 April, for a second time until 26 April, a third time until 9 May – and then for the fourth time until midnight on 23 May.

During the overall lockdown period, from Monday 30 March until after Easter, further measures were introduced ordering all non-essential workers in Spain to also remain at home. Following the Easter break, industrial and construction workers, as well as non-essential employees in sectors where working from home wasn’t possible, started a gradual return to work.

When the Spanish Congress had voted to extend the ‘state of alarm’ until 9 May, it also came with the relaxation of some restrictions, specifically allowing children aged up to 14 the opportunity to take daily walks for an hour from Sunday 26 April, after 43 days confined at home.

From Saturday 2 May – after 48 days in confinement – adults across Spain also were allowed out to walk and exercise during set time slots.

The four-phase de-escalation plan then officially commenced from Monday 4 May.

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*Health Ministry data 

From 24 April, Spain’s Health Ministry changed its criteria for Coronavirus statistics. The official daily figure for the number of infections is now for those tested only via PCR(polymerase chain reaction).

All regions of Spain must now also report deaths and intensive care unit (ICU)admissions in the same way. A victim can only be counted in the death tally if they have tested positive for Covid-19 via a PCR or rapid test.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said, ‘Spain is following a very strict definition of cases in line with international authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the EU Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 and then dies is considered a Coronavirus fatality’.

Up-to-date WHO advice and facts (in English) about the Coronavirus epidemic can be found here: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance.

Coronavirus in Spain full update

Coronavirus in Spain full update

The latest official figures* for Coronavirus (Covid-19) released by Spain’s Health Ministryin Madrid at 11am on Thursday 7 May confirm that 26,070 people have now died from the pandemic in Spain, up by 213 on yesterday.

Wednesday had seen an increase of 244 Coronavirus-related deaths over Tuesday. Tuesdayhad been an increase of 185 over Monday. Monday had been 164 – the lowest figure since 18 March.

The current peak of recorded deaths related to Coronavirus in a 24-hour period in Spain was on 2 April, when 950 deaths were registered.

Official figures released daily by the Spanish Health Ministry are for the total number of people who have tested positive for Coronavirus only through a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction). That figure for Thursday 7 May is 221,447 – an increase of 754 over yesterday.

Wednesday’s figure for the increase of infections tested only through PCR had been 685 over Tuesday. Tuesday’s comparative figure had been 867 over Monday. Monday had been 356.

A total figure also released today by the ministry for those who have tested positive through PCR and antibody testing, however, is 256,855 (221,447 PCR; 35,408 antibody).

The current peak of recorded infections for a 24-hour period in Spain was on 31 March, when 9,222 new cases were registered (including from PCR and antibody).

128,511 people have now made a full recovery.

With regards the official figures released by the central Health Ministry for each region of Spain, there have been discrepancies in the data released independently by some of those regions, particularly for Madrid and Catalonia. Please refer to *Health Ministry data and regional discrepancies below.

Of the official figures released by the ministry today – and based only on the total 221,447 confirmed cases through PCR testing – there are now 63,870 cases in the Madrid region and where 8,504 have died (from the total 26,070 across the country). There are now 51,190 cases in Catalonia and where 5,394 have died.

There are now 13,041 known cases in the Basque Country (1,383 deaths), 12,268 in Andalusia (1,294), 16,184 in Castilla La Mancha (2,677) and 10,592 in the Valencia region (1,303).

Figures for those infected with Coronavirus in other regions are now as follows: Aragón 5,258 (800 deaths), Asturias 2,326 (292 deaths), Balearic Islands 1,929 (201), Canary Islands 2,235 (144), Cantabria 2,220 (200), Castilla y León 17,625 (1,864), Ceuta 109 (4), Extremadura 2,877 (467), Galicia 9,134 (586), Melilla 119 (2), Murcia 1,501 (137), Navarra 4,983 (480) and La Rioja 3,986 (338).

A full breakdown in Spanish of the data per region, together with age group statistics can be found by clicking here. Please also see Health Ministry data and discrepancies below.

Barcelona police
Whilst certain restrictions are being lifted across Spain, the lockdown has been extended until 24 May, and many police controls are still in place. (Photo courtesy of Barcelona’s local police, the Guardia Urbana @barcelona_GUB)

CORONAVIRUS in SPAIN – latest updates

Spain started Phase Zero of the government’s ‘four phase’ de-escalation plans to lift lockdown restrictions from Monday 4 May – and which was to last for ‘at least a week’.

We have published all the key rules and guidance regarding the Four Phases of the Spanish government’s plans for the lifting of lockdown measures in a separate report. It is regularly updated as and when new measures are officially announced. The report can be found here: Lifting of lockdown in Spain – full details of all phases.

Spanish Congress votes to extend ‘state of alarm’

On Wednesday the Spanish Congress voted to officially extend the current ‘state of alarm’ lockdown in the country until 24 May. Votes in favour of the extension were 178, with 75against and 97 abstentions. It is the fourth time that the lockdown has been extended, after starting on 14 March.

The overall lockdown will continue at least until 24 May whilst Spain also continues with the ‘four phase de-escalation plan‘ of gradually lifting restrictions, depending on the progress of each region.

On Thursday, Spain’s first deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said in an interview that it was almost certain that Spain would still need ‘some more weeks’ of lockdown even further than 24 May.

The session in the Spanish Congress on Wednesday started with a minute’s silence for the victims of Coronavirus. In his opening address, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchezannounced that Spain would have an official period of mourning once the majority of the regions were in Phase One of the de-escalation plan.

He also said that once the country reached the phase of the ‘new normality’, there would be an official public memorial held for the victims.

In his appeal for an extension to the lockdown, Sánchez said that ‘there aren’t any absolutely correct decisions’, but that ‘ignoring the risk posed by the pandemic’ and ‘lifting the state of alarm now would be an absolute, total mistake and unforgivable’.

Pedro Sánchez
Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez in the Congress on 6 May 2020. (Photo congreso.es)

He also appealed to the regions of Spain to act with ‘fiscal co-responsibility’ once his government transfers the Coronavirus relief funds to the regional governments.

Last week the Spanish prime minister announced that the central government was allocating a special fund of €16bn for the regions. From that total, €10bn would be to support healthcare, €1bn on social welfare and €5n to help the economic recovery.

In Congress Sánchez said that whilst the spread of Coronavirus in Spain had been growing at a daily rate of 35% seven weeks ago, this rate now stands at 0.31%. He claimed ‘albeit prudently’ that indications showed that the disease was under control in Spain and that the health system was no longer overwhelmed.

The improvement, he said, had been achieved with ‘a great deal of sacrifice’ and by ‘moving forwards together’, thanks to ‘decreeing the state of alarm’. After this ‘partial victory’, Sánchezsaid that Spain could now propose its de-escalation phase.

Sánchez insisted that in order to halt the spread of the virus, it required ‘limiting the right to free movement and the right of assembly’ over the next few weeks, with the ultimate aim of saving lives and guaranteeing public health.

He also pointed out that, although they will be increasingly less severe, the restrictions ‘are only possible under the state of alarm’ – a constitutional legal instrument ‘designed to fight pandemics and health emergencies, as expressly established in the Constitutional Law that enacted the state of emergency’.

Sánchez is the head of the socialist PSOE party and currently leads a coalition government in Spain with the left-wing Podemos group.

The government succeeded in Wednesday’s vote with the support of the Ciudadanos (Cs)party and the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV).

The right-wing People’s Party (PP) abstained in the vote. The Catalan pro-independence parties and the far-right Vox party voted against.

Inés Arrimadas, leader of the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, had announced on Tuesday evening that her MPs would vote in favour of the extension, but with some conditions.

Arrimadas insisted that the government reports weekly on the progress of the de-escalation with her party.

On Wednesday morning the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) also confirmed its support, in exchange for obliging Spain’s central government to agree upon the de-escalation of lockdown measures with regional governments.

Spain originally commenced its lockdown for two weeks from 14 March, with measures that confined everyone to their homes apart from leaving to purchase food or medication, or to go to their place of work only if they could not perform their duties from home. After one week, these initial measures were then extended until 12 April, then for a second time until 26 April – and then until 9 May.

Spanish Congress
A minute’s silence being held in the Spanish Congress before the start of the session on 9 April 2020. (Photo Spanish Congress / congreso.es)

During the overall lockdown period, from Monday 30 March until after Easter, further measures were introduced ordering all non-essential workers in Spain to also remain at home. Following the Easter break, industrial and construction workers, as well as non-essential employees in sectors where working from home wasn’t possible, started a gradual return to work.

With the relaxing of restrictions for children from Sunday 26 April – after 43 days confined at home – they were allowed out for an hour accompanied by a parent, guardian or elder sibling. From Saturday 2 May – after 48 days in confinement – adults across Spain were allowed out to walk and exercise during set time slots. Now Spain is in the initial Phase Zero of the Spanish government’s ‘four-phase de-escalation plan‘ to relax lockdown restrictions over a maximum 8-week period.

ALSO READ: Lifting of lockdown in Spain – full details of all phases

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*Health Ministry data 

Since 24 April, the Spanish Health Ministry changed its criteria for presenting its Coronavirus statistics each day, to only include the number of infections of those tested via PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

Previously, the ministry had also stipulated to Spain’s regional health authorities how the overall data should be collated, as some regions had been using different methods to collate their own figures.

In Catalonia, for example, the regional health department had only previously been counting figures for those who had died from Coronavirus in hospitals. This was then changed to include figures for those who had also died in nursing homes, social health centres or elderly residences, as well as at home.

Following discrepancies in the way that data has been collated, the Spanish government published an order in its Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) to clarify the criteria that must be used.

All regions must now report deaths and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the same way. A victim can only be counted in the death tally if they have tested positive for Covid-19 via a PCR (polymerase chain reaction testing) or rapid test.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa

The Health Ministry has also requested that each region send in the total number of infections divided into symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. In addition, they also require the number of PCR tests carried out from each region, the total number of people that have required hospital treatment, including intensive care, as well as the number of patients who have been discharged.

Salvador Illa, the Spanish Health Minister, said that, ‘Spain is following a very strict definition of cases in line with international authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 and then dies is considered a Coronavirus fatality’.

Spain’s PM gears up for fight to extend state of alarm

Spain’s PM gears up for fight to extend state of alarm

Faced with political opposition to the state of alarm it declared in mid-March to battle the coronavirus, the Spanish government is seeking to extend its emergency powers by framing an upcoming vote in Congress as a choice between “state of alarm or chaos.”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who heads a minority coalition government with the leftist Unidas Podemos, will seek another extension to the emergency declaration that underpins one of Europe’s tightest lockdowns. The state of alarm must be approved by Congress every two weeks, and the current period ends on May 9.

The government has been easing some of the confinement measures in recent days as part of a gradual deescalation plan, and now allows citizens out for walks and exercise for limited periods of time. On Monday, small businesses reopened under certain conditions. Spain has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries, with Covid-19 claiming 25,428 lives according to the official count, which does not include people who died with symptoms but were not tested.

But the leader of the main opposition Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, said on Monday that “prolonging the state of alarm beyond a 60-day period makes no sense.” And the head of Ciudadanos (Citizens), Inés Arrimadas, has asked the Spanish leader for an exit plan from “a constitutional tool that facilitates the restriction of fundamental rights.” A day earlier, regional leaders also rejected the idea of prolonging a situation that temporarily increases central powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Counter-attack

On Monday, the government went on the offensive with the message that if the PP does not vote in favor of a new extension to the state of alarm on Wednesday, it will be dodging its responsibility, since the PP holds power in several key regions such as Madrid, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The state of alarm is indispensable. And it works, There are 22 countries with similar systems,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa at a news conference on Monday afternoon. “Let’s not conduct experiments that could lead to chaos.”

Health Minister Salvador Illa (l) and Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos at a joint press briefing on Monday.
Health Minister Salvador Illa (l) and Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos at a joint press briefing on Monday.EFE

Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos went further. “I ask the PP not to allow itself to get dragged down by those who rely on hoaxes,” he said, alluding to the far-right party Vox, which is the third-largest force in the lower house of parliament. “If it does, it will have to answer to citizens if there is greater contagion. For the PP to wash its hands of the decree of alarm is tantamount to condemning us all to chaos.”

The executive still believes that the extension will get greenlighted in any case, because the opposite would require a collective “no” vote from the PP, Vox, Ciudadanos and the Catalan separatist parties Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat) and Catalan Republican Left (ERC), an unlikely scenario.

Instead, the Sánchez administration is trying to turn the vote into an image problem for the PP, which is the only European opposition party that does not support an extension to an extraordinary measure that serves to limit citizen movement.

“The prime minister has explained to Casado that if the state of alarm is no longer in effect, some people will have to go back to work, others back to their studies, and the ERTEs [temporary layoff schemes that guarantee jobs will be maintained] will no longer have a force majeure reason to justify them,” insisted Ábalos. “All efforts would be lost, because we would lack the legal framework. Casado has not offered an alternative plan because there is none.”

Ambiguous position

Casado has not yet made it clear which way the PP will vote, but he has suggested that his party might abstain. “At the present time, with the information in our power, we cannot support this extension,” he said in a radio interview on Onda Cero.

“The government is taking Spaniards hostage and we will not tolerate it. It is immoral,” he added, alluding to the fact that the ERTE temporary layoff scheme will be state-funded as long as the state of alarm remains in place. Hundreds of companies have filed for ERTEs since the beginning of the pandemic, either sending home or reducing the working hours of their employees.

Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas at a video appearance on Sunday.
Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas at a video appearance on Sunday. EFE

The PP leader feels it is possible to keep central power and mobility restrictions in place without the need for the state of alarm. “Sánchez must adapt existing legislation on public health, civil protection and national security so that the single healthcare command and the mobility limits between provinces can be implemented without the limits to fundamental rights involved in a state of alarm.”

Inés Arrimadas, leader of Ciudadanos – a center-right party affiliated with the European liberals – wants to see an exit plan from the state of alarm. In a virtual news conference, Arrimadas asked the government to disassociate the state aid for self-employed workers, employees and businesses from the state of alarm. Just like Casado, she did not specify which way her party will vote on Wednesday but said that Ciudadanos will act “responsibly” and “will not endanger Spaniards by taking away their protection.”

Spain allocates time slots for outdoor activity

Spain allocates time slots for outdoor activity

Spanish health authorities on Thursday announced new rules for outdoor activity for long-confined citizens, and the time slots when each of these outings will be allowed.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Salvador Illa said that starting on Saturday, adults may go out for individual exercise once a day, without making contact with third parties, and within their own municipality of residence. All kinds of sports are allowed as long as they are practiced individually.

Adults may also go out on one-hour walks, either alone or with one other member of their household, as long as they remain within a one-kilometer radius of their home

Both of these activities must take place between 6am and 10 am, or between 8pm and 11pm.

As for outings with children, which have been allowed since Sunday of last week, these will now have to take place between 12 noon and 7pm.

People who need to go out with a caregiver and seniors over 70 years of age have their own time slots of 10 am to noon and 7pm to 8pm.

In municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents, these time frames will not apply, and all activities may be conducted between 6am and 11pm, as “there is no risk of crowding,” said Illa.

The new normal

A man out for a walk with two children in downtown Valencia on Wednesday.

 

A man out for a walk with two children in downtown Valencia on Wednesday. MANUEL BRUQUE / EFE

The move is part of a broader scheme to gradually scale down one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. Announced on Tuesday, the Plan for the Transition to a New Normality is a four-phase program that envisions a gradual and asymmetric easing of restrictions that will not necessarily take place everywhere at the same time.

“The starting point for Madrid and Catalonia is a little more complicated than in other regions,” said Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s health emergency coordination center. “It is possible that measures will be delayed a bit longer there, although it will depend on how the epidemic evolves.”

The Spanish Health Ministry reported on Thursday that the number of daily coronavirus deaths has fallen to 268, the lowest figure since March 20 and down from a peak of 950 overnight fatalities on April 2. Spain has been under a strict lockdown since March 14, when Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a state of alarm that he has been extending in two-week periods with congressional support.

Starting this Saturday, adults will be allowed to go outside everywhere in Spain for daily walks and exercise. Since Sunday of last week, children under the age of 14 have been allowed to go out for supervised walks within a one-kilometer radius of their homes and for no longer than an hour.

On Monday, Illa met with regional health chiefs to discuss proposals for how outdoor activity should be regulated. Many of these regional leaders argued that time slots should be set in order to avoid crowds, after photos on Sunday showed families allegedly breaking social distancing measures. The government, however, insisted on Monday that no serious breaches were committed on the first day of children’s outings.

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