Congreso approves extension of lockdown to 26 April, although restrictions will not end then says PM

Sánchez in Congreso on Thursday.
Sánchez in Congreso on Thursday. / EFE
  • The government wants opposition parties to agree to wide-ranging cross-party pacts to ease the economic crisis

The national government confirmed the extension of the lockdown in Spain until 26 April this week, approving the measure in Congreso on Thursday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in Congreso on Thursday however, that the state of alarm would have to go on for longer and a third extension would be sought.

This likely new extension going into May, however, could come with more relaxed restrictions on movement, ministers have hinted this week.

However, in a television interview on Wednesday, minister for Finance and government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, issued a reassuring message that she expected that the public could begin to recover "normal life" after 26 April, although "returning to streets and squares" would be in a staggered way following "clear instructions" from the government.

She added that the only current certainty was the state of alarm until 26 April. This fact was restressed by Health ministry officials later in the day who were annoyed by Montero's comments. They said Spain was still firmly in the "tough phase" of the pandemic.

The extension had been announced by the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez last weekend. He also announced that the extra measures banning all non-essential work for two weeks would end on 9 April as planned, allowing workers in sectors such as construction back to work.

Montero said that return to normal life from the end of the month would be gradual, and it still wasn't clear how to achieve this.

She added that Health ministry officials needed to study test data over the next fortnight to agree the best way to wind up the lockdown. The testing study will cover over 60,000 people in different regions of the country, "starting with senior citizens' homes, those seeking medical attention as well as a random sample of others".

Meanwhile, the government is preparing its way out of the economic crisis. Montero expressed her disappointment at the EU's failure to agree a common rescue package. "We need help from other countries, that's why Europe was constructed," she said.

Ministers are also pushing opposition parties to agree a unified approach after lockdown in historic cross-party pacts similar to those reached after the end of Franco's dictatorship. So far, parties on the right have been reluctant to agree to the move.