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Coronavirus COVID-19

Government will request Lower House to approve extension to state of emergency until 11 April

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Sunday 22 March 2020

Pedro Sánchez gave a press briefing at Moncloa Palace after holding a video-conference with the presidents of the autonomous regions and cities, to whom he notified the decision to extend the existing state of emergency throughout the country for a further 15 days. In accordance with Article 116 of the Spanish Constitution, which establishes that the authorisation of the Lower House of Parliament is necessary to extend the state of emergency, the Council of Ministers, at its meeting on Tuesday, will agree to request such an extension until 11 April.

The President of the Government expressed his conviction that the parliamentary forces will support the extension. "This is a drastic measure, one of the most drastic adopted by our peer countries. I am aware that this is very inconvenient for the people of Spain and that it hits family life very life, but the experts agree that it is effective in the fight against the coronavirus", he declared.

New measures to combat COVID-19

At the press briefing, Pedro Sánchez specified five new actions by the government in the "ongoing war" against COVID-19.

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaFirstly, the government will make available to the regional governments all of the installations and material and human resources of private homes for the elderly, as it already has with the private health system. The goal, he said, is to alleviate the saturation of these centres and improve living conditions for the elderly, as well as to reduce their level of risk of infection.

Secondly, as agreed by the Member States of the European Union, all non-essential travel from third countries will be restricted for 30 days. The measure will not apply to EU residents and those from Schengen associated countries that are travelling to their place of residence, cross-border workers, haulage companies, flight crews, tourists returning to their country of origin, healthcare workers and those who look after the elderly, diplomatic staff and those people with justified grounds of force majeure.

Thirdly, the armed forces will increase their scope of action in three areas: the transfer of the sick from saturated hospital centres to nearby centres with healthcare resources available, the security of critical infrastructures and logistical support in such areas as the distribution of healthcare material and staff.

Fourthly, the government will facilitate resources to local authorities for the home delivery of food and basic products, and pharmaceutical products, with the aim of ensuring that the elderly do not need to leave home.

Lastly, the government has decided to establish a strategic reserve of products to fight any potential future pandemics.

Unity of action and political determination

The President of the Government and presidents of the regional governments and autonomous cities reviewed during the video-conference - the second of this nature - the actions being carried out in a coordinated fashion and their impact.

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe President of the Government promised collaboration to the regional leaders, while seeking the same from then, after having expressed their support and understanding, explained Pedro Sánchez. The President of the Government underlined the importance of unity of action from all public authorities and private organisations. "We will resist and overcome this virus through unity".

Pedro Sánchez claimed that "the toughest days are yet to arrive", and that Spain will overcome the crisis thanks to the sacrifice of Spanish society, the system and the healthcare workers, scientific advice and "absolute" political determination. "In order to beat this virus, we are putting all the resources within our grasp at the service of all of Spain so that this emergency can be over as soon as possible and with the minimum possible loss of lives, jobs and companies", he stressed.

Responsibility and discipline

He underlined that this victory also requires social and civic responsibility and discipline. In order to stop the spread, it is essential that we remain in lock down, not travel to second homes and avoid physical contact with the elderly. "Whoever believes they are above this situation and tries to carry on normally should be aware that this behaviour turns them into an ally of the virus", he argued. Pedro Sánchez also warned about the danger of spreading fake news and advice that runs contrary to scientific evidence.

The President of the Government reiterated his thanks to the people for their solidarity and the civic spirit they have shown in recent days, This spirit of collaboration and the spontaneous action of so many individuals is an example for public leaders, said Pedro Sánchez, who remarked that "this is not a question of regions, ideologies or parties, but of beating the virus".

Non official translation