By Laura Kemp • 29 March 2020 • 14:06
Image of the dust cloud reaching the Iberian peninsula.
Credit: [email protected]
Euro Weekly News reports live updates from the President’s Speech. 29.03.20.
Pedro Sanchez is currently meeting with the leaders of Spain’s autonomous communities to finalise the regulations of the new decree which states that all businesses which are strictly non-essential must be closed for the next two weeks.
His speech is due to begin at 2.15pm and it will outline which essential businesses and workers will be able to remain open and in function.
Maria Jesus Montero, the Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Spain wants to convey that they are hopeful to find a definitive solution through science and medicine which will finally solve the pandemic once and for all.
All governments and countries around the world are trying to stop the spread of this virus and we have learnt that these are unprecedented circumstances which all for extraordinary measures.
The decision to strictly close all non-essential businesses has been taken in order to further reduce mobility and decrease the risk of infection between citizens in order to flatter the curve of infection and relieve tension on the Intensive Care Units. This has been done to protect all citizens, especially those who are in part of the most vulnerable groups.
Montero insists that the goal is to “buy time” against this virus and that our weeks of confinement are already beginning to “pay off” as the rate of infection is “without a doubt” much lower than if we had not been quarantined.
We have to ensure that the rate of mobility within our nation during these next few weeks is the same as that as it would be on a weekend of quarantine, for this reason, we have approved the measure to justify this action.
The decree regulates a recoverable paid leave for all labour personnel who provide services in companies or public private entities.
Obviously, this will not include people who are able to do their job from home by teleworking or online, or those who have received an ERTE, those who currently find themselves temporarily incapable to work, those who are currently on maternity or paternity leave, and of course those essential workers.
Each day we grow closer to flattening the curve but we must provide additional effort, this is why the government, after taking on board the advice of experts, has decided to become stricter in the closure of non-essential businesses.
María Jesús Montero announces that the government will continue working on “a package of measures that will be developed next week and in the coming months.
“Next week we will be receiving medical supplies which have been purchased from China valued at over €600 million.
“We have also invested vastly in scientific research, as well as social measures so that nobody is left behind during this crisis.”
She affirms that “there is no time to lose” in the fight against the coronavirus, “everyone in their own way has a level of responsibility to uphold in the name of society and the objective is to save lives.”
Yolanda Diaz, the Minister of Labour
She begins by thanking the health professionals for all of their efforts and by promoting the need for better safety measures and protection to these workers who are out on the front lines.
Yolanda Díaz highlights the vital role of the European Union in this crisis, recalling that “Spain is not alone” when it comes to taking action.
Diaz has confirmed that although the upcoming quarantine will be even harder and stricter that the government will not bow down to pressure on lifting these restrictions as they are vital to flattening the curve.
She specifies which workers will be affected by paid leave: “This measure will be applied to workers who are now carrying on with their activities, not to those working from home, to those who have received an ERTE, or have a temporary disability procedure. Employers must guarantee paying their employees’ wages. Workers must return those hours which they have been paid for during the quarantine before December 31, this way no one loses.”
This is a very flexible option as we have left a margin for negotiation between the employer and the employees. We must prioritise general interests over individual ones. The objective is to flatten the curve.
Why has the government decided to take this decision now?
María Jesús Montero clarifies that the decisions taken by the government are based on the evaluation of the experts
On the question of why each autonomous community cannot follow their own understandings of what essential services can remain open, Montero has replied that it “makes no sense that one part of the territory should do something different from another” as the “virus does not know borders,” there needs to be a “unity in action” as this is “fundamental”.
“Until April 9, all non-essential workers must stay at home.”
Montero: “There has been talks of a postponement of tax payments and debts of SME’s (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) and for autonomous workers.” She acknowledges that this has been taken into consideration although no specific actions have been taken as of yet.
Yolanda Diaz regarding the ‘pressures they have received’: “We are defending the national and general interest. There is no better way to defend this than flattening the curve of coronavirus cases.”
She carries on by reassuring that as we approach Easter it is only “eight working days” that must be taken into strict quarantine and that must be recovered after the quarantine before December 31, 2020.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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