Gov’t tightens lockdown, closes all non-essential activity

Spain's Pres. Pedro Sánchez in televised press conference Saturday evening. Photo: Borja Puig de la Bellacasa/EFE via El País
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? Health Ministry says intensive care units in 9 regions at or near breaking point
? Employers prohibited from sacking workers for coronovirus-linked reasons
? Moratoriums on rent payments (4 mos), homeowner evictions (4 yrs) enacted

In an extraordinary meeting of Spain’s cabinet-level Consejo de Ministros on Sunday, the government approved a tightening of the existing “state of alarm” declared two weeks ago, essentially shutting down Spain’s economy with a ban on all but-essential activity at least through 9th April in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus nationwide.

The government decision to move to full lockdown came amidst a rebound in the number of deaths from coronavirus at the weekend, just two days after Health Ministry officials had signalled an apparent stabilization n the contagion curve. On Sunday, the ministry’s Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies Director, Fernando Simón, announced another high-mark in the number of coronavirus deaths, with 838 people having died in the previous 24 hours and the number of new cases having increased by 6,500, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 78,797.

Simón also warned that intensive care units (ICUs) in hospitals in six of Spain’s 17 regional autonomous communities had reached their capacity limits and that ICUs in another three regions were rapidly approaching full capacity.

? News Sources: El País, El Mundo and Europa Press …

In related news, on Friday the Consejo also approved legislation prohibiting worker layoffs due to force majeure or other causes, whether economic, for reorganization, technical or production reasons that derive from the national health crisis caused by coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease.

And, the government also approved decree legislation that gives renters impacted by the coronavirus crisis a four-month grace period on monthly payments to landlords and also establishes a four-year ban on evictions of homeowners who get behind on their monthly mortgage payments as a result of the crisis.

In a televised press conference Saturday evening, President Pedro Sánchez announced the decision to tighten the lockdown, saying it was necessary to reduce contact between individuals to the level where the contagion curve can be kept to a level that is manageable by Spain’s health services and hospital intensive care units.

Sánchez assured Spanish workers that those who are prohibited from going to work during the next two weeks over the next two weeks will effectively be placed on paid leave at their normal wage or salary rate. Payment for the hours missed will be paid over the coming months in regular installments, he said.


Under the tightened lockdown, effective Monday morning the only permitted work activities are those previously defined as “necessary” in the state of alarm, which includes work in the agriculture, fishing and food production sectors, by healthcare and veterinary workers, the manufacture of work clothes, pharmaceuticals, opticians, hygiene products, fuels for the automotive sector, tobacconists, IT and telecommunications services, internet vendors and dry cleaners, and the transportation and distribution of all products considered basic.

Any work activity that can be done remotely from home is permitted and the government also included a last-minute 24-hour grace period for those employees who must go into work on Monday to complete unfinished tasks that are essential to the work they were carrying out on Friday, prior to the tightened lockdown. As for those that will start working from home remotely, it is imperative for businesses of many kinds to ensure all employees try and find various ways of Staying Organized while working until lockdown sanctions can be relaxed or lifted. It is important that businesses understand that this lockdown won’t last forever and they should start planning for preventative measures for when people are allowed to return to work. If you visit you will find some solutions for social distancing and protection for staff in offices.

Lockdowns like this are essential for high-risk areas and countries, doing this can help prevent an even worst-case scenario that has the potential to happen. The population must realize that once the lockdowns are over around the world, there will be big adjustments to the way living has been to fit in with the new regulations. The health of everyone is important and must be taken seriously with people seeing how they can best protect themselves when back outside.

? Read more in English at: The Financial Times, Politico and El País …

? Click to read more news about Spain’s Coronavirus crisis …

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