Spain’s state of alarm extended one last time until June 21

Congress greenlights plan by president Pedro Sánchez to prolong emergency lockdown measures

The Spanish congress as lawmakers vote on the 6th state of alarm extension (by Spanish Congress)
The Spanish congress as lawmakers vote on the 6th state of alarm extension (by Spanish Congress) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

June 3, 2020 07:17 PM

The Spanish congress has greenlighted a proposal by president Pedro Sánchez to extend the state of alarm over the Covid-19 crisis until June 21—the sixth and last time lawmakers vote on the matter as the Spanish government is already lifting many restrictions.

The extension was only made possible after the left-wing coalition reached agreements with the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) and Catalan pro-independence ERC to grant more autonomy to regional cabinets, an ongoing demand since Madrid triggered the state of alarm in mid-March. 

"We’re nobody’s servants. Our only master is the working people of Catalonia," said Gabriel Rufián, an MP for ERC, which has come under fire by some of their allies in the pro-independence camp.

"Our only option is to have our own state. We, the pro-independence forces, should stand together despite our discrepancies," said Laura Borràs from the JxCat party, which voted against the extension despite being ERC's coalition partners in the Catalan government.

On Monday, Pedro Sánchez’s government also reached a deal with unionist Ciudadanos, ensuring a victory in the state of alarm extension vote. 

Inés Arrimadas’ party will vote Yes in exchange for Spain committing to grant "identical" measures at the end of the de-escalation process in all the areas of the state.

Last de-escalation stages managed by regional governments

The Spanish lower chamber approved the sixth prolongation of exceptionality measures to last until June 21, and during the debate before lawmakers on Wednesday, Sánchez confirmed it would be the "last" extension.

He also explained that, while the lockdown easing phases 1 and 2 will still be led by Spain, Phase 3 will be managed by regional governments, meaning that it will be up to each regional president to decide on lifting mobility restrictions before June 21 in areas already in Phase 3. 

Thus the Catalan cabinet will also be able to decide when Phase 3 ends in each of the country’s health regions, that is, when the 4-phase de-escalation lockdown is over and the so-called “new normality” begins. 

Indeed, Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday that his executive will pass a decree-law next Tuesday on the health measures that will come into force when the state of alarm is lifted. 

“It has to allow us to recover our habits [of before the health crisis] with safety,” he explained.