Madrid, April 19 (IANS) Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that he would ask Parliament to extend the current ‘State of Alarm’ for a further 15 days until May 9 as coronavirus cases and deaths continued to surge.
Sanchez’s announcement on Saturday came after number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain have reached 194,416, the second highest in the world after the US, with 20,639 deaths, reports Xinhua news agency.
In a televised address, the Prime Minister said he had made his decision after “listening to the experts of the Technical Committee” on the crisis.
Spain imposed the ‘State of Alarm’ over COVID-19 on March 15, which was extended twice until April 25.
“We have done the most difficult things and we have left the most extreme moments of the crisis behind with sacrifice and resilience, but these results are still not enough and still fragile,” he said.
“Despite the enormous progress that we have made, it is not possible for us to lift the confinement and move to a phase of scaling down (the lockdown),” said Sanchez.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) I will tell the Presidents of the (17) Autonomous Regions and the Congress of Deputies (lower chamber in the Spanish Parliament) of my wish to extend the State of Alarm until and including May 9.”
However, he indicated that this extension of ‘State of Alarm’ would be slightly different.
“We are going to be in a different ‘State of Alarm’,” he said, explaining that he was in favour of lifting “the confinement of children so that after April 27 they will be able to go into the street”.
“We will define in the coming weeks the criteria in which children will be able to go outside,” he added.
Sanchez said that he hoped everyone else in Spain would “start the slow march back to reality” in May, but warned the lifting of restrictions would be “cautious and progressive”.
A ‘State of Alarm’ is the first of three emergency levels a Spanish government can apply under exceptional circumstances, with the others being ‘State of Exception’ and ‘Martial Law’.
A ‘State of Alarm’ grants the government special powers to limit the movement of citizens, to control the means of production and use private assets if needed and also to use the military to carry out essential logistical and supply jobs.