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President of the Government calls for time, unity and institutional loyalty to beat coronavirus

Lower House of Parliament, Madrid, Wednesday 25 March 2020

The President of the Government appeared before the Lower House to ask for an extension to the state of emergency and the lockdown measures adopted in response to the spread of the virus which "is advancing and hitting hard" all countries around the world.

Pedro Sánchez stressed that "we must beat the virus without abandoning anyone", to which end the government's decisions try to balance social reclusion with the maintenance of economic activities as far as possible and the assets that will allow us to resume our lives "once this nightmare is over".

"It is necessary to use the scalpel in order not to have to cut off any limb from our social body that compromises the very sustainability of the confined population and the ultimate recovery of this same population", he argued.

The President of the Government claimed that "we have locked ourselves in to keep us from contagion and also to protect others, as well as to gain time in order for hospitals to assimilate the number of sick arriving and for researchers to find effective medication to treat the disease".

Meanwhile, he said, each one of us is a vaccination. "Not only must we flatten the curve as soon as possible, but we must also try to avert this in the future and stay one step ahead of future threats".

Unity and loyalty

The President of the Government asked for unity and institutional loyalty, as well as time, so that people can recover their lives and rebuild our shared well-being. "We will persevere in unity as a response to the sacrifices that we are asking from our people who are stuck at home and the bravery of those who leave their home to combat the virus", he said.

To this end, he called for all people of Spain to show their solidarity with the Region of Madrid, the region worst affected by the pandemic, and with all those regions that need it. "From the most remote village up to the Government of Spain, from each citizen locked down to each healthcare worker in their gown, we are suffering the same anguish caused by a phenomenon that we have never seen nor even imagined before".

Pedro Sánchez said to the regional presidents in recent days that work must be done on a united front, thinking about the sick and their families, a request he reiterated to all members of the Lower House.

No political leader "has superhuman powers but we are lucky enough to be able to count on the response of our mighty citizens and the scientific advice of the best professionals", underlined the President of the Government, before concluding. "You only have to add our spirit of unity and our desire for victory to these two factors".

"National pride"

In this regard, the President of the Government described all the public servants as a source of "national pride". He praised the more than 350,000 National Health System professionals for their "tireless" work, the staff at the Health Warning and Emergencies Coordination Centre for their professionalism, dedication and commitment", and the State law enforcement agencies and the armed forces for their deployment "as never before" in assembling temporary infrastructures, distributing food and disinfecting public installations and residential homes for the elderly.

The President of the Government also gave over part of his speech to remembering the victims of this disease and their families, to whom he conveyed his support. To those who are sick in hospital or at home, he stressed that they are "the top priority for all of us".

Health, economic and social measures

During his speech, Pedro Sánchez extensively reviewed the orders, rulings and instructions issued by the Ministers for Health, for Home Affairs, for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda; and for Defence, as the competent delegate authorities, to establish new measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and to extend, modify, elaborate on and clarify the rules in force since the declaration of the state of emergency.

The President of the Government also explained that all the measures contained in the Royal Decree-Laws approved in the last couple of weeks, and presented to the Lower House on Wednesday afternoon for ratification, are aimed at achieving three goals: to strengthen the health system and anticipate potential threats and thus guarantee health protection; to mitigate the economic consequences and lay the foundations for a recovery that allows the country to be rebuilt as quickly as possible; and finally, to protect all citizens, guaranteeing their right to a live in dignified conditions.

In the current mitigation phase, Pedro Sánchez pointed out that the priority is to protect the sectors of the population that are most exposed to the severest form of the disease, including healthcare professionals - to "shield the capacities of the health system to the maximum" - and those people who cover our basic services. "All tiers of government in all corners of the country are working tirelessly for them, and it is for them that we will all remain in lockdown", he stressed.

Pedro Sánchez highlighted, among the health and social measures, the release of 4.2 billion euros of public funding to be transferred to the regional governments, the intervention in the prices of products necessary to protect health and the moratorium on mortgage payments for the most vulnerable groups. As regards the measures to keep jobs, these are particularly aimed at SMEs - such as the flexibility and speed of the ERTES [temporary lay-off plans] - and at independent contractors, who will have access to an ordinary benefit for the cessation of activity. The liquidity of companies will be guaranteed, recalled Pedro Sánchez, with a line of credit of up to 100 billion euros, with the first tranche activated last Tuesday.

Finally, the President of the Government highlighted the support investments for the "essential and urgent" scientific and medical research in the search for a vaccination against COVID-19.

Non official translation