Coronavirus COVID-19

Pedro Sánchez claims it is essential to maintain state of emergency to "complete the victory over the virus"

President's News - 2020.5.6

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Lower House of Parliament, Madrid

In his speech before the plenary session of the Lower House of Parliament, the President of the Government advocated the importance of extending the state of emergency, decreed on 14 March to manage the COVID-19 crisis, already extended on three occasions, with the authorisation of the Lower House on health, economic and social grounds.

Pedro Sánchez recalled that while the spread of the virus was growing at a daily rate of 35% seven weeks ago, this rate now stands at 0.31%, and claimed "albeit prudently" that other indicators also show that the disease is under control and that the health system is no longer overwhelmed.

This improvement, he declared, has been achieved with a great deal of sacrifice and by "moving forwards together" and also thanks to decreeing the state of emergency. After this "partial victory", Spain can now propose its de-escalation phase, which requires this same legal instrument because it is the only one "that can halt the channels for the spread of the virus when a good part of its lethal potential still exists", he argued.

He added that in order to halt the spread of the virus requires limiting the right to free movement and the right of assembly over the next few weeks, with the ultimate aim of saving lives and guaranteeing public health. Pedro Sánchez pointed out that, although they will be increasingly less severe, these restrictions are only possible under the state of emergency - a constitutional legal instrument designed to fight pandemics and health emergencies, as expressly established in the Constitutional Law that enacted the state of emergency.

Culminate the collective effort

Congreso de los DiputadosThe President of the Government underlined that the goal of the state of emergency is not to recentralise the country, but to avoid the uncontrolled spread of the virus between provinces. He also denied that it seeks to limit liberties; "all constitutional rights remain intact".

The government's sole aim, he stressed, is to culminate the "great collective achievement" so as to continue protecting all citizens and recover social and economic activity. "What we must vote on is as to whether this is a gradual de-escalation or whether we break rank, whether unity will prevail or whether the law of the jungle will prevail", he stated when asking for a vote in favour of this "essential legal weapon to complete the victory over the virus".

Pedro Sánchez argued that "there are no absolute certainties in managing the pandemic" by any government or opposition party, "but there may be absolute errors". Lifting the state of emergency now, he argued, would be an absolute and unforgivable error that the government must not make. The President of the Government urged avoiding this on behalf of all of those who have died or have been sick from the pandemic and of the thousands of healthcare workers who have fought this on a daily.

In memory of the victims, announced Pedro Sánchez, the government will decree an official period of mourning when most of the country is in Phase 1 of the de-escalation, and a public tribute will be made when the necessary public health conditions are met.

Leading role of regional governments

As regards the de-escalation, the President of the Government advocated caution in each one of the four phases of application and called for citizens to be responsible.

This return to the new normality, he explained, will be asymmetrical and will be co-governed by Central Government and the regional governments. Although ultimate approval lies with the Ministry of Health and depends on the evolution of the virus, the process is adaptable and participative, and the regional governments will play a "leading role", he stated.

Congreso de los DiputadosPedro Sánchez specified that the regional governments will send the Ministry of Health their proposals, indicating those areas that will change phase, the measures to be adopted, an analysis of the strategic capacities of the health system and of the epidemiological evolution and any other relevant economic, social or mobility aspects.

Among the requirements that must be fulfilled is the capacity to install within a maximum period of five days between 1.5 and 2 beds in intensive care for each 10,000 inhabitants and the update to the indicator panel on their situation. The Ministry of Health will study the proposal made with each regional authority and adopt a decision, preferably on a consensual basis. Furthermore, the regional governments will have the capacity to interpret the Orders issued.

Reconstruction Pact in EU and in Spain

Europe, reiterated Pedro Sánchez, is a key element in the exit from the crisis. "We need an ambitious agreement at an EU level, which rises to the circumstances", stated the President of the Government, who rejected the use of "easy formulas that perversely and deceitfully mean going into further debt".

The path of solidarity and union, he added, is the only one possible in Europe and in Spain. "We need to support a Social and Economic Reconstruction Pact, make it work together on a proactive basis, trusting that we have what it takes". Pedro Sánchez undertook to attend to the proposals that the parties present at the parliamentary committee set up to address this Pact.

Shield for companies, workers and families

During his speech, the President of the Government reviewed the main initiatives adopted by the government to combat the coronavirus since the state of emergency was decreed. The total cost of actions taken is 139 billion euros, including 4.3 billion in healthcare measures, 107 billion of an economic nature, 27 billion in employment matters and 816 million in social aid.

Congreso de los DiputadosPedro Sánchez referred to the distribution of protective material by the Ministry of Health, the security and disinfection measures taken by the Ministry of Defence, and the 770,000 proposed fines for citizens brought by the Ministry of Home Affairs for disobeying the state of emergency. "99% of the Spanish people have behaved in an exemplary fashion", he specified.

He also mentioned the implementation of the non-refundable reconstruction fund with a provision of up to 16 billion euros to finance the regional governments, the Official Credit Institute guarantees of credit lines focused on SMEs and the self-employed, the boost given to research and science, the ban on cutting off utilities to vulnerable groups, the moratorium on the payment of quotas for university loans and the fight against gender-based violence, among other actions.

The President of the Government reported that 570,000 workers have already benefitted from the consideration of temporary disability, assimilated as sick leave due to an occupational hazard because of the disease. And more than 4 million workers are protected through unemployment measures as a result of being suspended from work or because of a reduction in their working day.

In addition, almost 50,000 companies and independent contractors have requested the deferral until 30 June of the payment of their Social Security debts, and 1,125,000 independent contractors have signed up to the 6-month moratorium on their National Insurance contributions. Furthermore, a total of 1,233,000 independent contractors have applied for the extraordinary benefit due to a cessation of activity; 93% had been granted by 1 May.

"We want a safety net to exist that protects everyone; we want a social shield so that no-one is harmed. Our actions have been guided so as to leave no-one behind, and this will continue to be the case", he declared.

Non official translation