Spanish Lawmakers Approve State of Emergency Extension to May 9

(Bloomberg) -- Spain’s parliament backed Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s request to extend a state of emergency to May 9, as the country tries to rein in the world’s second-most extensive coronavirus outbreak.

The conservative People’s Party, the main opposition group, voted in favor of prolonging the measure for a third time, giving Sanchez’s Socialists enough support. The prime minister needs emergency powers to keep a lockdown in place and to exert full control over the country’s health system.

Spain reported a small increase in the number of new cases and deaths Wednesday, and overall the latest numbers are steady. More than 20,000 people have died from the disease, while some 86,000 have recovered.

Sanchez said the new state of emergency “will be different from previous ones” as some restrictions will be phased out depending on the evolution of the virus. Speaking to an almost empty chamber earlier Wednesday, he said the government “will be cautious.”

A tentative easing has already been agreed. On Tuesday, Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that children will be allowed out of their homes for walks from April 26, ending weeks of confinement.

Sanchez also used his speech in parliament to discuss the brutal impact of the virus on Spain’s economy and his ideas for a European response.

Spain has proposed the creation of a fund worth as much as 1.5 trillion euros ($1.6 trillion) that would distribute aid to countries based on how severely their economies are hit. Sanchez expects the proposal to be discussed at a European Union summit to be held by video conference on Thursday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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