17th May 2020 @ 9:30 am

Spain’s president, Pedro Sánchez, will ask parliament to approve a final, month-long, extension to the State of Alarm. “Our aim is that this will be the final extension, and that it will last until the end of the de-escalation period,” Sánchez told the nation yesterday. “Instead of 15 days, it will last for around a month.” 

Sánchez said this fifth extension would be “different”, and be coordinated by the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, who would work closely with Spain’s regional governments. Spain’s defence, transport and interior ministries would no longer have special powers over the regions. These concessions to the regions are likely to be necessary to pass a measure that will face strong criticism. 

Before instructing his party to abstain on the vote for the last extension, opposition PP leader Pablo Casado warned of a “constitutional dictatorship”, and the government’s refusal to allow Madrid into Phase 1 last week has unleashed even more anger among the PP, with Madrid’s regional leader Isabel Diáz Ayuso accusing the government of “holding us hostage” and saying the refusal would “ruin” the capital’s economy.

The support of the conservative Basque nationalists from the PNV and the centre-right Ciudadanos will be key to Sánchez’s proposal.  However, Ciudadanos have already expressed concern about the length of the new extension, which is twice the length of previous 15-day terms. A close eye will also be kept on Ana Oramas, the maverick deputy from the Coalicion Canaria,, who threatened to abstain at the last vote until backing the  measure at the last minute.

The last extension vote was passed with a majority of just 3. If not extended, the current State of Alarm will expire on May 24th.

In his national address, Sánchez also praised Spain’s random testing programme, claiming the results vindicated the nation’s decision not to pursue policies aimed at establishing herd immunity. The programme has shown that fewer than 5% of Spaniards have tested positive for antibodies against COVID 19, far short of the 70-90% required for herd immunity. Sanchez claimed that 300,000 lives would have been lost if his government had sought to follow such a policy.

Sánchez also warned that caution should be key when reestablishing the tourism trade.  “Spain needs tourism, but tourism needs safety,” he said. “They’ll visit us if they’re visiting a safe destination. We must reinforce our health system to strengthen tourism. If we make one false move it will take us decades to reestablish the trust that we’ve worked so hard to establish. Every step must be safe.” 

Good manners in Yaiza

Yaiza Ayuntamiento has published an impressively detailed “Guide to Good Practice”,which Mayor Oscar Noda hopes will promote “happy co-existence between businesses, customers and pedestrians”.

The guide is intended to assist the extension of terrace space to support restaurants and bars while not affecting pedestrians and other users of public spaces.

However, it is the proposals for a new pedestrian etiquette that are most notable. “These practices were well-known to our grandparents,” says the guide, before recommending that pedestrians always stick to the right, allow people to leave shops and bars before entering and do not gather in groups to stand still and natter in public areas.  Good luck with the last one, guys.