Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called for a united and coordinated response to the coronavirus crisis and announced the government’s action plan to support families, guarantee the supply of healthcare material, protect jobs and provide liquidity to SMEs.
There are around 2,200 reported cases of coronavirus in Spain and 43 deaths. All schools have been closed in the Madrid capital, where most of the coronavirus cases are located.
Sánchez gave a press briefing at Moncloa Palace after taking part in an extraordinary European Council meeting, held by video-conference, to coordinate action to combat COVID-19, on the same day that the Council of Ministers adopted fresh measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. Pedro Sánchez highlighted that this is a global emergency that requires a coordinated, multilateral and integral response, with particular attention to the health dimension, but also to economic consequences.
Sánchez sent out a message of confidence, unity, calm and stability to all the people of Spain. “We will do whatever is necessary, wherever and whenever it may be necessary to combat this public health emergency. And together we will overcome this crisis”.
Scientific criteria and action plan
As regards the health dimension of the problem, Pedro Sánchez underlined that the pillars of the government’s action from the outset have been technical management by scientific experts, ongoing monitoring of the situation to adopt proportional decisions, maximum coordination with the regional governments and European partners, and transparent information.
In terms of the economic impact of the crisis, Sánchez stressed that while the forecasts point towards a strong impact, this will be temporary. In order to alleviate these consequences, the Prime Minister argued that European institutions will provide mechanisms in the EU to offer liquidity to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The government also expects that the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact will be relaxed so that Member States can step up the fight against coronavirus.
At a national level, the government is finalising an action plan which will be agreed on with the social stakeholders on Thursday and provides for four areas of action: to protect the welfare of families, particularly of female workers, through a reduction in the working day and aid for the care of children given the closure of education centres; to guarantee the supply and production of medication and access to health material; to protect jobs and employment rights in sectors that suffer a temporary fall in demand, and to support tourism, transport and the liquidity of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Response by healthcare professionals and citizens
Pedro Sánchez added that in order to defeat this threat, a health system such as exists in Spain – one of the most efficient in the world and with very well trained and competent professionals – is fundamental. “I wish to acknowledge their work and express my solidarity with them over these weeks of great tension”, he stated.
Sánchez also underlined the need to provide a united and coordinated response by all the public authorities, regardless of their ideological leanings, and by the whole of society. Our citizens also play an essential role – each person that follows the recommendations of the experts and public authorities “is protecting, in turn, their own health and that of their families, colleagues, neighbours and compatriots”, said Pedro Sánchez, who expressed the government’s support for those people affected by the disease and the families of those who have died.
“We have a few difficult, tough, weeks ahead of us, but we will prevail, and we will deal with this as quickly as possible and with the least harm possible if each member of society, from civil society to all the public authorities, plays our own role”, declared Sánchez.