Spanish President Pedro Sánchez announced Sunday that his government will ask Congress to extend the country’s current “state of alarm” through Wednesday 11th April, effectively locking down Spain’s “shelter in place” regime that restricts all but necessary travel outside the home until after Easter’s annual Semana Santa holidays nationwide.
Sánchez said in a televised address following a video-conference with the presidents of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities that the cabinet-level Consejo de Ministros on Tuesday will approve the extension, which will be submitted to Congress for a vote on Wednesday that will extend the state of alarm, which includes home-confinement and restriction of movement and travel for citizens, for another two weeks.
Sánchez also announced the imminent distribution 1.3 million masks to regional governments, 500,000 of which are surgical masks for health workers and 800,000 masks for patients in hospital.
On Monday, the latest figures from Spain’s health ministry showed a sharp spike in the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus. As of mid-morning Monday, Spain had a total of 33,089 reported cases of the virus, representing an increase of 4,517 cases in just 24 hours. The number of deaths in Spain as of mid-morning on Monday stood at 2,182, placing Spain third worldwide behind Italy and China.
Of the 33,089 cases registered, 2,355 individuals were in intensive care units in Spanish hospitals as of Monday. A total of 3,810 health workers have so far been infected with the COVID-19 disease caused by coronavirus and to date 3,555 people have recovered from the infection in Spain.
Under Spain’s Constitution, there exist three levels of states of exception, the least restrictive of which is a “state of alarm” that can be passed by decree for a maximum of 15 days, thereafter requiring approval by Congress for multiple extensions of up to 15 days each. The other two states of exception, known as “state of emergency” and “state of siege” are more closely associated with national political crises, the first involving draconian suspension of individual rights and the latter akin to imposition of martial law.
Because Sánchez does control an absolute majority in Congress, he needs to ensure continued support of the conservative Partido Popular delegation in Congress for passage of the “state of alarm” extensions, since the government cannot be sure of the support of the smaller Catalan pro-independence ERC party, which has expressed discontent with the centralization of control of the coronavirus fight in the hands of the central government.
So far, Sánchez continues to receive the expressed support of PP leader Pablo Casado in extending Spain’s state of alarm, but under the current circumstances the Spanish president will have to go back to the PP for votes each and every time he may want to get an additional 15-day extension through Congress.
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