Spain eyes April 26 as date to begin to return to ‘normal,’ with controls

Despite announcement, deaths and new coronavirus cases have increased the last two days

Tourists on La Rambla, Barcelona (by ACN)
Tourists on La Rambla, Barcelona (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 8, 2020 12:29 PM

The Spanish government is aiming to begin returning to normal life from April 26, a spokesperson announced on Wednesday morning in an interview with television station Antena 3. 

Spanish government spokesperson Maria Jesús Montero says the transition will have to be done "progressively" and in a "very controlled" manner

Pedro Sánchez and his cabinet are expected to extend the ongoing state of alarm in the country on Thursday, which will last until April 26, the date cited for the gradual return to normality. 

In reaction to this news, the Catalan government have reiterated their calls for a full lockdown of the country. In their daily press conference, members of Catalonia's administration have cast doubt on whether the country should lift some of the confinement measures. 

Despite Spain's target of April 26, the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases has increased on each of the last two days, after a period of decreasing for four consecutive days. Catalonia also saw an uptick in cases after a similar period of cases going down.

Montero explained that authorities are working on "different scenarios" for this process of de-escalating the home confinement measures, and assured that with the information given by technicians in the coming weeks they will have to decide on the "correct path," and from there clear instructions will be given.

Back to work

On Monday, the government spokesperson and finance minister, Maria Jesús Montero said that the administration’s aim was to get people back to work next week. “We are moving forward cautiously and prudently. The next step, which is hugely important, is to try to return to work next week,” Montero said. 

Non-essential workers will be able to return to work while respecting security measures, but working from home where possible will still be prioritized. Spokesperson for the Catalan government Meritxell Budó said that Catalonia will be asking Spain for the full lockdown to remain in place, meaning that non-essential workers would not be allowed to travel to work.

Catalonia's interior minister, Miquel Buch, made the point that the number of cases seen in Italy rose once some lockdown measures were lifted. 

Elsewhere, Montero defended the coronavirus death count system and explained that after the pandemic has been overcome, epidemiologists will complete the data.

Curve flattening, but "difficult weeks" ahead

Spain’s minister for health, Salvador Illa, insists that the transition process will have "several stages." During a congressional appearance, Illa explained that a team of experts is working on developing a plan for the phases. 

The Socialist minister assured that data confirms transmissions of the virus are slowing down, and affirms that the curve is stabilizing and flattening.

Despite this, he warned of heavy pressure on intensive care units across the country, and said "there are still difficult weeks for the healthcare system."

Catalan health minister Alba Vergés cautiously agreed that "we are now containing the disease." She affirmed that "we can’t relax, we know epidemics go up and down, but they can also break out again."

"We are getting fast Covid-19 antibody tests; testing in elderly care homes will be a priority," she went on to say in Wednesday's press conference.