Spain govt to seek one-month extension of state of emergency

Spain's elderly care homes have been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak . AFP/Gabriel BOUYS

If approved by parliament, it would mean the state of emergency, which is currently set to expire on 24 May, would last until late June.

Spain’s government will seek a fresh extension of its state of emergency that will last “about a month” until the transition out of lockdown is completed, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.

“It should be the last state of emergency (period) and will continue until the end of the rollback. For that reason.. instead of being a 15-day (extension) it will be for about a month,” he said in a televised address.

If approved by parliament, it would mean the state of emergency, which is currently set to expire on 24 May, would last until late June.

The lockdown was first declared on 14 March to slow the spread of the virus in Spain, which has suffered one of the world’s most deadly outbreaks with 27,000 deaths and more than 230,000 cases.

Renewed four times, the decree has seen the government impose some of the world’s tightest restrictions on Spain’s population of nearly 47-million, although it has since begun a staged rollback which is due to be completed by the end of June.

The latest data showed a further fall, with the number of overnight deaths dropping to 102 in what was the lowest figure in two months — and a far cry from the 950 of 2 April when the epidemic peaked.

Since 11 May, half of Spain’s population has benefited from an easing of the restrictions, with cafe terraces reopening and people allowed to meet in groups of up to 10 people.

And by Monday, fully three-quarters of the population will be able to enjoy such freedoms although these measures have not yet been rolled out in the worst-hit areas such as the Madrid region and Barcelona.

The government’s decision to keep Madrid in the so-called preparatory phase zero has provoked a backlash from the regional authorities who have accused the central government of playing politics and even threatened to take legal action.

The last time Sanchez’s government sought to extend the measure, he faced a wave of opposition from his rightwing opponents who vowed to block the move, although it was ultimately passed.

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