Council of Ministers

Government adopts new measures to avoid transmission of coronavirus

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Council of Ministers addressed a series of measures to halt the spread of coronavirus, in addition to those already adopted by the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System.

The Minister for Health, Salvador Illa, claimed that the updated figures on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Spain have forced these "additional steps" to be taken under the current phase of strengthened contention. There are currently 1,622 confirmed cases, most of them focused in the Region of Madrid (782) in the Basque Country (195) and in La Rioja (144 cases). These two regions, the city of Vitoria and the town of Labastida, in Álava, have been classified as zones of significant transmission.

Salvador Illa explained that two legislative proposals have been made, on the one hand, to enable the central supply of all types of products that experts consider necessary to combat the disease and, on the other hand, so that those people affected, or in preventive isolation, are considered to be in a situation of temporary incapacity due to occupational hazards.

Restrictions on travel and large-scale events

Pool Moncloa/J.M.CuadradoAfter stressing the general recommendation to avoid non-essential travel, the minister reported that direct flights from Italy to Spain have been banned from midnight on 11 March until midnight on 25 March. The minister specified that State planes will still be allowed to fly, as will exclusively cargo flights and positional, humanitarian, medical and emergency flights, and stopovers for non-commercial purposes will be permitted provided that passengers are not allowed to disembark the plane.

All Imserso trips will be suspended for the next month. Salvador Illa argued that the aim is to prevent this particularly fragile sector of the population from travelling.

The Minister for Health pointed out that, with the same aim of avoiding a large number of people travelling and their concentration in a single place, all large-scale professional and amateur sporting events, and national and international competitions, will be held behind closed doors throughout Spain. Salvador Illa explained that other cultural and social events that require the displacement of a large number of people will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and will be ruled on by the regional government of the place they are due to be held.

In zones of significant transmission - Madrid, La Rioja, Vitoria and Labastida - group activities in closed spaces that hold more than 1,000 people have also been suspended. In the event that these activities take place in a smaller venue, they may only be held with a maximum of one third of the capacity.

Citizen collaboration and professionalism of health sector

Salvador Illa admitted that the measures approved will affect the daily lives of people and families, but warned that they are absolutely necessary and hence called for collaboration from citizens to make them effective.

The Minister for Health also thanked healthcare professionals and workers for their work and commitment, "as they are on the front line in combatting this disease". To date, more than 17,500 tests have been performed to detect the disease, which "clearly shows the efforts being made by the public health system and the National Health System as a whole".

Institutional cooperation

Pool Moncloa/ J.M. CuadradoThe cooperation and coordination between Central Government and the regional governments, and in turn with European and international health authorities, were highlighted by both Salvador Illa and the Government Spokesperson and Minister for the Treasury, María Jesús Montero.

María Jesús Montero defined the unity, transparency and coordination of the public powers as "key". Along this line, she stressed, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, informed the spokespersons of political parties and regional presidents of the situation on Monday, and that on Tuesday afternoon he was due to take part in a single-issue extraordinary European Council by video-conference.

Pedro Sánchez will meet on Thursday with the trade unions and business leaders to analyse the action plan that the government is completing to alleviate the economic consequences of this situation.

The Council of Ministers will meet again on the same day and, if necessary, adopt new decisions, "solely in response to technical criteria and scientific evidence", stressed the Government Spokesperson.

Measures to halt mortgage evictions of vulnerable groups

The Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree-Law on urgent economic measures to extend protection for vulnerable groups that cannot meet pressing mortgage payments and are at risk of eviction.

The Minister for the Treasury and Government Spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, explained that the measure responds to the government's commitment to ensure that the economic recovery reaches those households that remain in a situation of particular vulnerability. In this case, the measure affects more than 29,000 families.

Extension of cases to sign up to moratorium

Pool Moncloa/J.M.CuadradoMaría Jesús Montero specified that the law approved on Tuesday extends the extension on the suspension of mortgage attachments from two to four years, such that "no vulnerable family will be evicted from their home" until the year 2024. In addition, the definition of vulnerable group will be extended to include single-parent families with only one child.

The government has also decided to adapt the level of reference earnings so that a family is considered to be vulnerable according to the number of children making up the household. Furthermore, the text provides for the suspension of auctions regardless of whether the property reverts to a bank or a third party under foreclosure.

Rental market

The minister announced that the government will also take measures to protect the most vulnerable groups in the rental market, within the framework of the reform of the Urban Leases Act. These initiatives are in addition to those adopted in 2019 to regulate eviction proceedings.

Furthermore, the Royal Decree-Law regulates the regime for grounds for dissolution of the Company Managing Assets from Bank Re-structuring (Spanish acronym: SAREB). It also provides for the possibility for securities companies and payment and electronic money institutions to request to be transformed into banks.

Protection of personal data

Pool Moncloa/J.M.CuadradoThe Council of Ministers approved the draft Constitutional Law for the protection of personal data in all work of prevention, detection, investigation and criminal offence proceedings, as well as protection and prevention against threats to public security.

María Jesús Montero stated that one of the main goals of the draft law is to guarantee full respect for the right to privacy and the principle of proportionality in data processing when this requires the investigation of criminal offences and the prevention of threats to public security.

The minister added that a national regulatory framework will be created in regard to the processing of personal data by the competent authorities, mainly police officers, prosecutors and the judiciary in the prevention, prosecution and trial of criminal offences. The law expressly excludes terrorism and organised crime, which will continue to be governed by their own specific legislation.

Other agreements

  • Agreement to ratify the convention of the Council of Europe on the fight against the trafficking of human organs, already signed by 25 countries.
  • Approval of a Royal Decree to update the records on agricultural machinery, to improve safety and reduce the accident rate.

Non official translation