MADRID – Despite the problems with AstraZeneca, the Spanish government is not changing its vaccination plan. And it is also sticking to its view of ending the state of alert after May 9. Although the Partido Popular (PP) does not agree, the government has abstained.
The Spanish cabinet is not planning to extend the state of alert in Spain. That is, unless the corona figures rise sharply in the next three weeks. Sánchez refers the PP to the Spanish Parliament if the party does want an extension of the state of emergency.
The government believes the Partido Popular is playing ‘political games’. And argues if there is a desire for an extension, even if it is short-lived, as in the case of Andalucia’s regional president Juan Manuel Moreno, for example, it should be dealt with in Congress. Furthermore, the government points out that the PP has repeatedly rejected the decrees on the state of alert during the pandemic. And also it abstained during the debate on the adoption of the last one, the current extension.
May 9 is not the right time
Sánchez has worked hard several times to get approval for extensions. The moment for negotiating and seeking parliamentary support is now somewhat delicate. This is due to being in the middle of the campaign for the Madrid elections. Also, Moncloa believes that with the vaccination schedule, the legal instruments available to the sub-regions are sufficient. Under current rules, they are allowed to make
drastic decisions, such as closing shops and restaurants. What Moncloa says cannot happen, and is a restriction on a fundamental right, is to impose a curfew without a state of alert. After May 9, the curfew will expire and the regions will be able to take their own measures to restrict nightlife.
In the regions
There are many reasons for the Spanish government not to get involved in the debate instigated by the PP. Socialist regional presidents seem to be in favour of not prolonging the state of emergency. However, the government thinks that the doubts of some PP regional presidents will disappear in the coming weeks.
Andalucian President Manuel Moreno Bonilla wants to extend the state of alert until the second week of June. However, only if the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants remains ‘as high as it is now’.
State of alert
The state of alert allows governments to restrict the movement of their citizens. It allows them to set the curfew times or impose lockdowns in areas where the coronavirus is more prevalent. However, if infections and hospital occupancy rates rise again, the government does not rule out the possibility of submitting the extension proposal to the Congress of Representatives once again.
PP suggests alternative plan
Hospital occupancy rates and the number of infections are now much lower than on October 29. This is when the decree was adopted extending the state of alert in Spain by six months. Both at national level and within the sub-regions, the PP has long been pressing for an alternative legal plan. The plan would first and foremost amend Article 3 of the 1986 Law on Special Measures for Public Health. In turn, this would restrict entry to and exit from areas affected by the virus and control the movement of people. The government rejected this idea.
The Consejo de Estado, the highest advisory body of the Spanish government, supported the PP’s argument and inserted an extra paragraph in the papers which read: ‘The analysis of the issue under discussion enables the Consejo de Estado to suggest that the content of Organic Law 3/1986 may need to be amended to provide more detail and specificity in order to provide the competent health authorities with the best possible legal framework to deal with current and future situations of serious risk to public health’.
According to the regional presidents of Andalucia, Murcia and Galicia, among others, the situation could change radically when the alert ends on May 9. They will be forced to cut corners and run the risk of having the measures imposed overturned by the courts.