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Spain has implemented drastic measures in a bid to tackle the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez addressed the nation on Saturday evening to announce the moves being taken in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus — there have been 6,271 confirmed cases and 189 people have died.

From Sunday on, the countrys 46 million citizens can only leave their homes to buy groceries and pharmaceutical products, go to the bank or hospital, or to take care of dependents. While on the street, they must be unaccompanied at all times, and while they can go to work, most workplaces are to be closed to the public until further notice. Among the exceptions are markets and pharmacies, but also barbershops, dry cleaners and stores that sell tobacco products.

As part of the “state of alarm” measures, Spains armed forces, police and civil protection officers, as well as the countrys health workers, are now under the direct command of the national government. Air, rail, maritime and road transport will continue, but are being reduced by between 40 and 60 percent, and flights to the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as to the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Meilla in North Africa, are to be reduced by half.

The decree signed by the government closes all schools, museums, libraries, hotels and restaurants, and prohibits sporting and cultural activities. The government also reserves the right to take over factories and energy utilities.

Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias attended the meeting in person, ignoring medical advice that he remain in quarantine for two week.

Emergency powers are to be administered by Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos and Health Minister Salvador Illa, all of whom are linked to Sánchezs Socialist Party. The decrees initial duration is 15 days, but it can be extended with the approval of the parliament.

The “state of alarm” was approved a day and a half after Sánchez announced his intention to enact emergency measures, and after a marathon, eight-hour meeting of the coalition governments Council of Ministers that was marred by tense infighting.

In an unexpected development, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias attended the meeting in person, ignoring medical advice that he remain in quarantine for two weeks after his partner, Equality Minister Irene Montero, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.

According to government officials quoted in El Mundo, Iglesias insisted on showing up to the Council of Ministers in order to object to the concentration of power under Socialist ministers and to demand that politicians belonging to his Unidas Podemos party be given prominent roles in the emergency response team,

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias | Javier Lizon/EPA

The same officials said that the meeting dragged on because Iglesias wanted the decree be modified to include social measures such as government aid aimed at helping needy families pay their rent and mortgages. According to El País, Finance Minister Nadia Calviño opposed the proposal because of its considerable cost in the midst of what will likely be an economic crisis.

The infighting delayed the Read More – Source

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