Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez on Tuesday opened up the possibility of individual regions being able to request the declaration of a state of alarm in their territory (or part of it) in order to impose stricter measures against the spread of Covid-19, including localised lockdowns.
"Requests which fulfil the health criteria will have the support of the government," said Sánchez, who explained that regional chiefs would have to bring the case to Congreso for debate before such measures can be approved.
"The evolution [of the virus] is not good, especially in some territories, which have done worse than others, but we are far from the situation of March. Now we must not let fear paralyse us," he said.
Another measure announced by Sánchez in his appeal for "co-governance" in the fight against the pandemic was to make 2,000 military personnel available to the autonomous communities to bolster contact tracing which now has the additional help of the Radar COVID mobile application.
"Its effectiveness was proven in the pilot test in La Gomera, detecting almost twice as many contacts as manual trackers. With more than 20 per cent implementation, it could reduce the impact of the pandemic by 30 per cent. Everyone should download the application," he said.
New cases, a "concern"
In response to the increase in infections across Spain during the last few weeks, Sánchez said that the situation was "a concern" but asked for "calm".
"Covid-19 cannot take over our lives. We are going to flatten the curve again; we already did it at a more difficult time, we know how to do it now," he said.
The causes of the upturn, he said, "are the same as in Europe as a whole: nightlife or family gatherings". As a result, he has also asked for young people to commit to tackling the virus and therefore, he said, the government has started campaigns on social media through so-called influencers.
Sánchez also stressed that the national health system is better prepared to face the pandemic than it was a few months ago. "We know the virus better and we are confident that we have more resources," he insisted.