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Sánchez imposes curfew as in Italy

Madrid Spain follows Italy’s example and seals off the entire country after numerous new corona infections. The 46 million inhabitants are only allowed to leave their homes to buy everyday products, go to the doctor or to work.

In addition, only grocers, pharmacies, kiosks and petrol stations are allowed to open. All restaurants, bars and cafes remain closed, as well as museums, sports halls, parks and discos. The police monitor compliance. Public transport will be maintained, but will reduce its offer by around half.

“These are drastic measures that will have major economic consequences,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on television on Saturday evening. The government would not, however, avoid responsibility for this. “The most important thing,” says Sánchez, is the health of the population. Sánchez already presented a package of relief measures on Thursday, which includes tax deferrals for small and medium-sized companies. The government coalition of socialists and left-wing populists was apparently unable to agree on further measures at their cabinet meeting this Saturday.

The alarm condition is the first of three exceptional conditions provided for in Article 116 of the Spanish Constitution. Among other things, it gives the government sole decision-making power. This can therefore now also determine the deployment of the regional police, which some autonomous regions have.

The alarm status initially applies for 15 days, but can be extended by Parliament. Experts say that the measures taken will only be successful in about ten days. Until then, the number of infected people is likely to continue to skyrocket, as these are the ones that were infected before the restrictions that were now decided.

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The number of infections rose again sharply on Saturday: In total, there were 6251 patients in the evening – over 2000 more than the previous day. Greater Madrid is particularly affected with 2940 infected people. So far, 189 people have died from the virus in Spain. After Italy, the Kingdom is the most affected country in Europe.

Criticism from opposition and experts

The opposition and virologists criticize the Spanish socialist government for having waited too long to take the measures. Neighboring Portugal had already raised the alarm on Friday, at a time when there were only a few cases and no deaths.

Prime Minister Sanchez, on the other hand, had allowed demonstrations on International Women’s Day last Sunday. According to the government delegation, 120,000 people took part in Madrid alone.

After Sánchez announced the alarm condition on Saturday evening, the Spanish government announced that his wife was infected with the corona virus. Minister of Equality Irene Montero and Minister for Regional Policy, Carolina Darias, had previously tested positive for the virus. Montero is the life partner of Pablo Iglesias, the deputy prime minister and head of the left-wing populist party Unidas Podemos. He has not yet been infected and is actually in quarantine with Montero. However, on Saturday he attended the cabinet meeting.

It took more than seven hours. According to the Spanish media, the reason was a dispute within the government coalition. Iglesias and the left-wing populist labor minister Yolanda Díaz have therefore called for extensive help for those who lose their jobs due to the closure of shops, restaurants and bars or who earn nothing in time. According to the reports, the demands of the socialist minister of economics Nadia Calviño and the socialist minister of finance Maria Jesús Montero went too far.

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Several autonomous regions of Spain had previously decided on measures in their territories to contain the outbreak of the virus. Catalonia, for example, cordoned off four municipalities on Friday night where there were particularly many cases. In the Madrid area only shops with products for daily needs opened on Saturday.

The cuts hit the Spanish economy at a critical moment. After a severe economic crisis, it has experienced a multi-year upswing and has grown at rates of over three percent in the past few years, significantly more than the EU average. However, the cooling of the global economy has ensured that the government only expected growth of 1.6 percent this year – this forecast dates from before the corona virus hit Europe with power and can no longer be held.

Spain is particularly vulnerable to the virus: on the one hand, the country achieves twelve percent of its economic output in tourism, which is particularly suffering from the corona crisis. In addition, at 14 percent, unemployment is still the second highest in Europe after Greece. The first Spanish companies are starting to fire employees because of the corona virus. The crisis is throwing the country back in an effort to achieve stability and social balance.

“We don’t have masks”

Madrid was already swept empty on Saturday. A A4 sheet of paper was emblazoned on the front door of the pharmacy in the central Plaza Chamberi: “We have no masks and no disinfectants. We apologize for any inconvenience”. Inside, the pharmacists had installed a transparent plastic wall on the sales counter, which now separates them from customers and has only one opening for payment.

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The butcher told his wholesaler that he had stopped delivering some products because they were sold out. The Spaniards have been stocking up on food for days after the calls for the past few days to stay as far as possible.

On social media, prominent athletes and nurses are demanding: “stay at home”. The 102 hospitals in the Madrid area are already working at the limit, which is why hotels are now being converted into hospital wards.

In Spain, it is the second time since the end of the dictatorship that the government has raised the alarm. In 2010, she ended an air traffic controller strike in which she placed the pilots under military law, according to which long-term prison sentences could result if the command was refused.

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