You are in:

Coronavirus COVID-19

"The hardest part is over; the most difficult part is behind us", says Pedro Sánchez

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Saturday 23 May 2020

The President of the Government stressed, in his weekly briefing from Moncloa Palace on the evolution of the health crisis, that "the great wave of the pandemic has now passed and all of Spain has gained a firm foothold in the transition towards the new normality".

This achievement, he underlined, is not down to luck but to the work of the healthcare professionals and the sacrifice of ordinary Spanish people who, based on discipline, determination and the sense of victory, have halted the spread of the virus. "The hardest part is over; the most difficult part is behind us. The light is clearer and we can now see light at the end of the tunnel", declared Pedro Sánchez.

Thanks to this progress, the whole country will move onto Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the de-escalation on Monday, which means that all our citizens can now reunite with their families and friends and that stores can gradually open their doors. "We will recover, consequently, a good part of what we lost when the virus so dramatically irrupted into our lives", said the President of the Government.

Maintain caution and exercise responsibility

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaHowever, the virus has not gone away and the health emergency still exists, said Pedro Sánchez, who described it is "essential" to continue following the indications of the health authorities on washing hands, on maintaining social distancing and on the use of face masks. "Our motto must thus be to act without fear, but with extreme prudence and responsibility", he argued.

The President of the Government recalled that until such time as a vaccine or a therapeutic remedy is discovered for COVID-19, the control of potential outbreaks will continue to depend on individual and collective caution and he praised the regional authorities for balancing the wish to recover normality and caution in avoiding any relapses.

In the final stage of the de-escalation, warned Pedro Sánchez, it will still be necessary to maintain some restrictions on economic activity and limitations on the freedom of movement and of assembly to avoid the virus spreading.

State of emergency - a public health matter

The President of the Government argued that the constitutional figure of the state of emergency is the only tool which, according to the State Legal Service, allows mobility to be limited and stressed the efficacy of this instrument, since, when the government declared the state of emergency, the daily growth rate of new infections stood at 35%, whereas that rate has now dropped to 0.19%.

According to the President of the Government, the state of emergency is "quite simply" a public health matter which goes above and beyond party politics and has nothing to do with the transfer of powers, financing or the enactment of laws. "Public health comes first because, without it there can be nothing else, and the state of emergency is the tool that guarantees this", he argued.

Resumption of tourism, sports competitions and cultural activity

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaAmong the sectors that will gradually resume their activity, the President of the Government highlighted bars, restaurants and tourism due to their fundamental role in the Spanish economy and job creation. "We will have a tourist season this summer".

Pedro Sánchez invited all establishments related to tourism to get ready to resume their activity in a few days' time and urged Spaniards to start planning their holidays to national destinations now, which many people will be able to enjoy as of the end of June. He also announced that foreign tourists will be able to arrive as from July. The support for the sector will be combined with "all due health guarantees" and a commitment to environmental sustainability.

The President of the Government also reported that, with the backing of the National Sports Council, the Ministry of Health has given the green light for the resumption of major professional sports competitions as from the week starting 8 June, including the Professional Football League, "under conditions that guarantee the utmost health and safety for all participants in the competition". In the coming weeks, he added, museums, cinemas, concerts and theatres will also reopen.

Minimum Living Income to be approved next week

In the transition towards the new normality, the government will pay close attention to those parts of "Spain that are most exposed" to the economic crisis, beginning with those who run the risk of falling into social exclusion and poverty.

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaIn this regard, Pedro Sánchez announced that next week the Council of Ministers will approve the Minimum Living Income, "a milestone in our democracy to ensure that no-one is left behind and that, moreover, this has been a commitment since the start of this legislature under this coalition government.

The President of the Government explained that this will be a permanent benefit, on a similar basis to those in other European countries and that its final design has been achieved thanks to the work of the Tax Agency, the Social Security system and the regional governments. Its annual cost will stand at around 3 billion euros and it will benefit close to 850,000 homes, half of which have children in their care. To calculate the amount of the benefit, the income of each household will be analysed, and the benefit will cover the difference up to the minimum income that corresponds to this household. These will begin to be distributed in June, according the rate at applications are dealt with.

Pedro Sánchez pointed out that the government "will not idly stand by" and watch those in vulnerable situations or repeat the errors made in the last crisis.

The President of the Government referred to another decision taken by the government, "which relates to future generations" - the approval on Tuesday of the draft Climate Change Act. Science, he argued, has been warning us for several decades that the next emergency will be climate-related so we need to get ahead of it.

Tribute to victims

In the final stretch of the health emergency, the President of the Government called the public to tackle the "tremendous challenges" the country is facing, particularly the economic and social reconstruction in the awareness that "we have once again managed to overcome a hurdle together" and "come out of this situation stronger".

Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaThose who have died in the pandemic "deserve to be remembered; they deserve our lasting memory, but also an even bigger tribute - for us to live together in harmony" declared the President of the Government.

Next week, the government will approve a declaration of an official period of mourning throughout the country in memory of these victims, which will last for 10 days.

And at the end of the de-escalation, reiterated Pedro Sánchez, a great official tribute will be paid, as well as other commemorations and memorials presided over by the Head of State, King Felipe VI.

Non official translation