- Unlike the other requests, this time the Executive is not guaranteed opposition support
The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, announced ton Saturday that he will request a fourth extension of the state of alarm from the Congress of Deputies. It will be put to Congress on Wednesday morning, and, if approved, will keep the lockdown in place until May 25.
The Council of Ministers, which will officially approve the request on Tuesday, believes this measure is necessary so that the country can return to the “new normal” as soon as possible.
There was encouraging news on Sunday with the lowest number of recorded deaths in a month and a half, since 18 March when the figure declared was 107.
The number of new daily cases, just 1,654, was also reassuring as they too are gradually declining from a peak of close to 10,000.
The gradual reduction in deaths seems to be fairly consistent with the figures recorded at just over 500 fatalities one week, down to 400 the next, 300 and then 200. However it is too early to say whether this new figure in the 100’s is here to stay or if it is simply a product of the underreporting that usually occurs on weekends.
Sánchez said that “the state of alarm is working but that it is still necessary.” According to the Prime Minister, “it would be irresponsible to do anything other than maintain it.”
Unlike the previous requests, however, on this occasion there is no guarantee that the government will achieve the necessary opposition support to carry out the extension.
Its ERC and PNV partners are not in favour of the extension and the PP, which has supported them all so far, has doubts of its own.
The Government welcomes the fact that “the descent of the curve has now been established.” According to Sánchez, it is because “we are reaping the fruits of confinement.” On Monday, according to the Executive’s plans, the de-escalation will begin to introduce its phased de-escalation which, the Prime Minister warns, will be “little by little.”
Next week the whole country will go to phase zero, with the exception of the islands of El Hierro, La Gomera and La Graciosa (Canary Islands) and Formentera (Balearic Islands) that will go directly to phase one.
As of May 11, the vast majority of provinces will then move to phase one which allows greater mobility although both Madrid and Barcelona, the two provinces most affected by the pandemic, might not be included in the move.
The Government’s will is for each phase to last two weeks with the entire country arriving at stage four by the end of June, until which time there will be no return to the “new normal”.
The Prime Minister went on to announce that the use of face masks on any public transport system will be mandatory from Monday. For this, the State is going to distribute six million masks in all main transport hubs.
The masks will be mandatory for those who have to take a bus, a train or the Metro.
Also over the weekend the Government increased from 30% to 50% the maximum occupation of the terraces of bars and restaurants in the hospitality sector on the introduction of phase 1 of the de-escalation process, scheduled for Monday, May 11.
According to government sources, in phase 1, the terraces may be open with a maximum capacity of 50% and not 30%, but provided that people maintain a minimum safety distance of two metres and there are no groups of more than ten people.
The move will only be of benefit, however, to those businesses that have large terraces, very much a minority.
Also from 11 May, the Government will allow private vehicles with up to nine seats to travel with all their seats filled, provided that the occupants live in the same house. The use of masks is recommended.
Despite the fact that currently the use of the car is residual, once Phase 1 begins there will be more businesses that are open and the movement of vehicles will increase.
In the case of people not living together, only two seats can be occupied for each row, keeping their distances, and each passenger must use masks or other protection equipment.
The Government will also allow gatherings of up to 10 people, either at home or outdoors. During these meetings, people should still keep a distance of two metres and always maintain the established hygiene measures. They do not have to be cohabiting at the same address, but may be family, neighbours or friends.