Spanish prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has used his regular Saturday address to the nation to detail his intention to ask for a further extension to the State of Alarm. He said that this extension will be the last, but it will be for one more month past the current period which expires on May 24th. Previous state of alarm periods have been for a maximum of 2 weeks.
The PM said that the Spanish handling of the Coronavirus crisis had been successful and that it had been the only option, with Government scientific advisors stating that the alternative plan of herd immunity would not have worked.
At the outset of the crisis the PSOE lead coalition was able to rely upon its calls for the state of alarm to be passed despite not holding a parliamentary majority. However, as time has gone on they have found it increasingly hard work to gain the support of the main opposition PP group and smaller regional parties. The last extension was only secured at the 11th hour after an agreement was made that gained the necessary majority in the 350 seat house. Sanchez and his team will not be taking anything for granted in seeking the one month extension.
The Prime Minister also said that half of Spain should have completed the phased return to ‘the new normality’ by the beginning of summer, though those of us in tourist areas will consider that deadline has already passed. Speaking particularly to the tourism industry Sanchez said “Spain needs tourism, but tourism needs safety, it needs health guarantees. We must overcome the health emergency in order to reactivate tourist activity.”
He also called for unity. “Unity saves lives, and can also save companies and jobs,” he said. “There is no clash between health and economic priorities.”