Spain’s Prime Minister Announces Coronavirus De-escalation Measures

Canary Islands

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez held a press conference on Tuesday evening to explain his government’s plans for the de-escalation of coronavirus confinement measures in Spain.

Sánchez began by expressing his sorrow for the loss to Spanish society of the victims of the coronavirus, before explaining how Spain had managed to “flatten the curve of the spread of the epidemic.

“The ‘Plan for the Transition Toward a New Normality,’ on which we have been working for nearly a month, was today approved by the Cabinet,” he continued. “We have taken into account the lessons from other places, but adapting them to the diversity and the reality of our country.”

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The prime minister added that the “only objective of this deescalation plan is to activate Spain protecting the health and lives of Spaniards.”

The de-escalation would be, he continued, “gradual, asymmetrical – according to regions – and coordinated.” He committed to paying proper tribute to the victims of the coronavirus – officially 23,822, according to the latest figures – when the pandemic is defeated.

“There will be no mobility between provinces or islands until normality returns,” he explained, adding that there would be four phases.

Phase 0, he said, “is the phase for the preparation of the de-escalation, and that is the phase in which we are now.” This phase would involve the re-opening of businesses that can take bookings. For example, restaurants that can offer food to take away.

Phase 1, the prime minister continued, would “allow in each defined territory the partial re-opening of small businesses under strict safety measures, apart from in the large shopping malls, where big crowds could form.

He added that this also included the opening of hotels and tourist apartments, not including common areas.

There will be a “timetable for the over-65s” to shop in retail establishments, he added, while the use of masks on public transport “will be highly recommended.”

Religious sites such as churches will be able to open in phase 1, with a limit of 30% of their capacity, the prime minister said.

Phase 2, meanwhile, will see hostelry establishments able to open their dining areas. As for schools, Sánchez explained that they would re-open in order to offer a guarantee that children aged under six can attend if their parents have to go to work, and so that students can complete their university application processes and exams.

“Cultural events will be possible with fewer than 50 people in interior spaces, and for open air events, there will have to be 400 people or fewer, and they will have to be seated,” Sánchez explained.

Cinemas and theatres will also reopen under Phase 2, with a third of their capacity allowed to enter.

Phase 3 will be “the advanced phase,” he continued, “once the required markers have been met.”

Each phase will last at least two weeks, he said, and in the best-case scenario, the process will last eight weeks in all of Spain.

“By the end of June, as a country we will be in the new normality if the evolution of the epidemic is under control in all territories,” he said. “This weekend individual physical activity will be allowed, as will walks. On May 4, all territories will enter phase 0, and given the low number of infections and if the progress allows for it, Formentera, the Balearics, Gomera, El Hierro and Graciosa in the Canary Islands will enter Phase 1 a few days later.

“On May 11th, all of the provinces that meet the requisites will enter Phase 1, and the Health Ministry will evaluate the markers on a two-weekly basis.

“There is no closed and uniform calendar, and we will advance in each place as quickly as the epidemic permits,” he said. “When we conclude the de-escalation we can say that each province has reached a situation of new normality until a vaccine arrives.”

The markers the prime minister referred to will be “the capacity of the country’s health systems, the epidemiological situation in each area, protection measures in the workplace, business and public transport, and mobility and socioeconomic data.” These markers would be public, he added, “and transparent.”

The virus, the prime minister said, “has not gone anywhere. It is still there lurking. With our behavior, we can save lives. We can protect our lives and help to rebuild our country. That is, right now, the best patriotism.”

The four rules of the de-escalation, Sánchez explained, were “a gradual, asymmetrical, coordinated and adaptable approach.” “The adaptability is because we don’t know what we are facing. Science still doesn’t know a lot of things about this virus. As such, we are facing something that we don’t know, and that is why we have to be cautious.”

Sánchez also explained that another two-week extension to the state of alarm that was implemented on March 14 would be requested in Congress. The current period is due to expire on May 9th.

Total Cases on The Canary Islands: 18:00 28/04/20

Confirmed: 2,203

Deaths: 134

Recoveries: 1,096