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Congreso approves a sixth and final extension of Spain's state of alarm until 21 June

Pedro Sánchez in Congreso on Wednesday.
Pedro Sánchez in Congreso on Wednesday. / EP
  • Wednesday's debate between MPs was dominated by speeches criticising the handling of the removal of top Guardia Civil officers

Congreso approved a sixth and final two-week extension of the Spain's state of alarm, first declared in the middle of March at the start of the coronavirus crisis, on Wednesday.

Prime minister Pedro Sánchez gained a new period, from 8 to 21 June, in which central government retains powers to restrict movements within its phased lockdown easing programme.

This extension was achieved on Wednesday evening with less difficulty than the last one, as Sánchez had previously secured the support of centre-right party Ciudadanos as well as the Basque nationalist party PNV. The Catalan republican party ERC agreed to abstain to allow the motion to go through.

This time the government has promised that the regional authorities will be able to control the lifting of restrictions once regions enter Phase Three of the lockdown easing plan. The only control central government will necessarily retain once areas have moved into Phase Three is over movement between regions.

Each regional authority will be able to decide whether or not to allow travel between provinces within that region in Phase Three. In addition, whole regions could come out of the state of alarm before 21 June, said the government.

Women's Day controversy

The prime minister was visibly more relaxed in Wednesday's parliamentary debate, knowing beforehand that he had enough support.

However the day's proceedings were dominated by ongoing criticism of the Interior minister's handling of the recent removal of senior Guardia Civil officers.

This week it emerged that the formal reason given to Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos for his dismissal was failure to share with the ministry the existence of the investigation into the government's handling of the 8 March Women's Day marches. Last week Interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska strongly denied that was the reason.

On Wednesday in Congreso, Pedro Sánchez defended Grande-Marlaska's actions.