2nd May 2020 @ 9:17 am

As thousands of islanders headed outside for their first run or walk for seven weeks, Spain’s President Pedro Sánchez faces an uphill task marshalling support for a further extension to the state of alarm.

In Arrecife, scores of people could be seen walking in pairs or running and cycling alone as the sun rose on a beautiful, calm May morning. Everybody appeared to be  behaving responsibly and there was hardly any sign of a police presence.

At Reducto beach at least two people were swimming. Although the Ayuntamientos on Lanzarote have not clarified the issue, it seems as though sport swimming falls within the parameters of “individual sport” laid out in the government’s decree. The famous beach of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, for example, has permitted sport swimming and surfing, although leisure bathing remains prohibited.

Meanwhile, Spain’s President Pedro Sánchez faces serious problems winning enough support in congress to extend the state of alarm beyond May 10th.  Sánchez hopes to get backing for another two-week extension this Wednesday, and his four-phase plan will require at least two more extensions in the future.  However, two of the Basque and Catalonian parties upon whose support he relies have threatened to vote against the extension this time, demanding a greater decentralisation of the decision-making process.

Without their support, Sánchez will rely on the opposition PP to pass the extension, and although they have backed extensions so far, Pablo Casado’s party has already expressed its dissatisfaction with Sánchez’s four-phase plan to leave the lockdown.

Casado has described the plan as “a disaster, a sudoku that no one understands” and his party favours an approach that gives businesses such as hotels greater freedom to open earlier. This political dance between cautious public health lockdown policies that stifle the economy, and less restrictive, business-friendly measures that carry a greater risk of a second wave of infections is currently being played out all over the world. 

Other options exist. The influential ex-socialist President Felipe González has proposed a government of national unity that would bring the PP into coalition with the Socialist party. González believes this kind of gesture is needed for the immense task of rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus crisis. However, the conditions for such a pact still seem a long way away.

In the event that Sánchez failed to win support for the extension, inter. Region travel restrictions would no longer apply, and policy-making would be the responsibility of each Spanish region. As the Canaries are ruled by the Socialist party, the four-phase plan is likely to remain in place here, and it is highly unlikely that airports and ports will be opened hastily. However, the Canarian executive has also appeared keen to gain more power over their decision-making, and the economy/public health argument is every bit as strong here, in a region which Canarian President Ángel Victor Torres recently described as “facing economic and social collapse”

Latest statistics: 1st May, 20:00

Increase on previous day’s figures in brackets.

Total Canarian Cases: 2212 (+6)

Cases on Lanzarote: 84 (+0)

Deaths (Canaries): 140 (+4)         

Lanzarote now has only 17 active cases of COVID 19. Five have been admitted to the Dr José Molina Orosa Hospital, and two of these are in the intensive care unit. The other 12 are  quarantined at home.