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Spain enhances social measures but rejects Catalonia's total lockdown

Moratorium on mortgages and efforts to avoid permanent redundancies among decisions to curb social and economic impact of coronavirus

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17 March 2020 04:19 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Spain will invest some 20% of its GDP to attempt to ease the social, labor and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

That is what Spanish president Pedro Sánchez announced on Tuesday afternoon, saying the figure will be about 200 billion euros, of which some 117 million euros will come from the public purse.

As well as a moratorium on mortgages, there will be more flexibility in implementing temporary redundancy schemes, in order to avoid permanent job losses.

Those temporarily out of work will have the right to unemployment benefits, and any time on benefits won’t count against a person’s entitlement to claim benefits in the future.

"Up to €100bn credit to be made available," added Sánchez, "and more resources will be spent on research to find a vaccine for coronavirus."

Catalonia lockdown request is refused

However, the head of the Spanish government ruled out a total lockdown in Catalonia's, something the Catalan government has been arguing for in the past few days.

Quim Torra's executive called on Spain to block airports, ports and train links connecting Catalonia with other territories on Friday, and on Monday also asked to further limit movements outside home to only those working in basic supplies.

On Tuesday, Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó continued to insist on the need for a total lockdown: "Every hour that goes by before taking the decision will be lost time in the fight against coronavirus."

But Pedro Sánchez said in his press conference, "The virus doesn't respond to borders, all of our measures are based of science."

On Tuesday evening, the Catalan leader sent a new letter to his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez, urging him once more to enforce a total confinement. 

Torra insisted that a complete lockdown was "inevitable" and said that "in Catalonia, people are dying by the hour."

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  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez gives a press conference on the coronavirus crisis in the country (by Pool Moncloa / JM Cuadrado i Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez gives a press conference on the coronavirus crisis in the country (by Pool Moncloa / JM Cuadrado i Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

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