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All nonessential flights to be suspended for 30 days

Government also takes over private nursing homes and increases scope of army action

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22 March 2020 07:33 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

The Spanish government announced on Sunday, after a meeting between Spain's president Pedro Sánchez and regional leaders including Catalan president Quim Torra, that all nonessential air travel would be suspended for 30 days given the ongoing coronavirus public health crisis.

People from Schengen Area countries will be able to fly back home, as will those who provide basic services. Health professionals, diplomats, couriers, flight crew and tourists who wish to return to their countries of origin or residence will not be affected by the measure.  

Sánchez also stated that private nursing homes would be taken over by regional governments to lessen the burden currently felt at public centers throughout Spain as well as to reduce the risk of covid-19 contagion.

In addition to the above measures, Spain's cabinet has approved "significantly" expanding the scope of action of the army, which has already been deployed as part of the state of alarm and has been, for example, disinfecting airports, among other things.

Other tasks the army will be carrying out from now on include transferring sick people to medical centers, as well as distributing medical equipment sent from abroad, transporting "key members of staff" to Spain's islands, or assisting Spaniards in foreign countries who are having trouble returning home.  

On Sunday the Spanish government also said that it would be seeking congressional approval to extend the state of alarm declared on March 14 for another two weeks as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases nears 29,000 in the whole of Spain and 5,000 in Catalonia, according to latest figures. 

While president Torra agrees with extending the state of alarm, he has repeatedly claimed that Spain's measures are not strict enough and should allow for a total lockdown of Catalonia and other parts of Spain to halt the spread of the virus, as well as only permit people providing essential services to continue leaving home to work and provide more assistance for vulnerable groups. 

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  • Ryanair plane at the Girona airport on October 2, 2019 (by Aleix Freixas)

  • Ryanair plane at the Girona airport on October 2, 2019 (by Aleix Freixas)

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