24th October 2020
Pedro Sánchez video-conference meeting with regional presidents
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Pedro Sánchez seeks final, ‘lighter’ extension to ‘state of alarm’

In a televised address on Sunday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that he would be seeking a sixth and final two-week extension to the ‘state of alarm’ until 21 June in a vote to be held in the Spanish Congress this Wednesday 3 June – but the extension would be ‘different’ and ‘lighter’ than previous times.

Sánchez said that the regional governments of Spain will regain all their powers to control the de-escalation process from Monday 8 June, the date at which many areas should be in Phase Three – although the central Spanish government would still control travel between different regions.

‘From 8 June,’ Sánchez said, ‘once half the country is in Phase Three, it will be the regional presidents who decide how to manage the speed [of de-escalation], including phase changes and their duration.’

Phase Three is the last of the Spanish government’s four phase de-escalation plan, which started on 4 May, and before the country enters the ‘new normality’ towards the end of June.

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

On 20 May the Spanish Congress voted for a fifth time to extend the ‘state of alarm’ in Spain until 7 June. There were 177 votes in favour, 162 against, and 11 abstentions.

Sánchez on 31 May 2020
Pedro Sánchez in the press conference on 31 May 2020. (Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

The socialist (PSOE) prime minister Sánchez had originally wanted to extend it for a whole month, until later in June. Each time the ‘state of alarm’ had been extended previously, it had been for two weeks at a time. For the 20 May vote, Sánchez changed the plan from a month to a two week extension in order to secure the support of the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, led by Inés Arrimadas.

Prior to his televised address on Sunday, Sánchez held a video-conference with all of Spain’s regional presidents, in which he outlined his proposals to return powers during the next extension of the ‘state of alarm’.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (1 June)

Sánchez also announced on Sunday that after 21 June, once the final extension to the ‘state of alarm’ has been concluded, citizens will start to have freedom of movement across the whole country, provided there is not a new increase of Coronavirus infections.

Insisting that the ‘state of alarm’ has been crucial to combat the spread of Coronavirus, Sánchez said on Sunday that, ‘We are going to need one last and definitive extension to the state of alarm. But it will be different, it will be much lighter.’

ALSO READ: Spanish Congress votes to extend ‘state of alarm’ until 7 June

Sánchez, leader of the socialist PSOE party, leads a coalition government with the left-wing Podemos group.

Together they have 155 seats in the 350-seat chamber (120 PSOE and 35 Podemos).

Each extension of the ‘state of alarm’ requires a vote in the Spanish Congress and just a simple majority – more yes votes than no votes.

Pedro Sánchez video-conference meeting with regional presidents
Pedro Sánchez holding a video conference meeting with regional presidents on 31 May 2020. (Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

The Spanish government has received fierce criticism from the opposition for the prolonged ‘state of alarm’ in the country – with Pablo Casado, leader of the right-wing People’s Party (PP), accusing Sánchez of overstepping his powers as prime minister.

The vote on 20 May succeeded with the support of Ciudadanos (Cs) and the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV), as well as the Coalición Canaria.

For the debate and vote this Wednesday 3 June, it appears that Sánchez has reached an agreement with the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Catalan pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party to support the extension.

Tourism

In his address on Sunday, Sánchez also spoke about the reactivation of the tourism sector.

‘Reactivation [of tourism ] should be immediate,’ he said. ‘In Spain you will find physical distance but emotional closeness.’

The Spanish government has already been encouraging citizens to book holiday within Spain from June and has also stated that international visitors will be able to return from 1 July onwards, when the current 14-day quarantine period for overseas arrivals is due to end.

‘State of Alarm’ & lockdown in Spain to date

On 20 May the Spanish Congress voted for a fifth time to extend the ‘state of alarm’ in Spain until 7 June. There were 177 votes in favour, 162 against, and 11 abstentions.

For the previous vote in Congress on 6 May, the PSOE-Podemos coalition government of Sánchez also 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 would have expired after midnight on 23 May.

Votes in favour of the extension that time 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.

Spanish Congress
A minute’s silence being observed in the Spanish Congress on 20 May 2020. (Congreso.es)

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.

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 – for the fourth time until midnight on 23 May – and a fifth time until 7 June.

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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Our previous reports on Coronavirus in Spain:

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

ALSO READ: Man jumps travel restrictions to board flight from Madrid to Lanzarote – and receives positive Covid-19 result

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (31 May)

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (30 May)

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (29 May)

ALSO READ: Spain’s ‘excess mortality’ during Coronavirus pandemic is over 43,000

ALSO READ: Barcelona enjoys Phase One, with parts of Catalonia in Phase Two.

ALSO READ: Far-right Vox party organise car protest

ALSO READ: Spanish Congress votes to extend ‘state of alarm’ until 7 June

ALSO READ: Face masks to be compulsory in closed spaces and outside, if not at 2-metre distance

ALSO READ: Spain extends international ban on entry into country until 15 June

ALSO READ: Ryanair plans to restore 40% of flights from 1 July

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