As some Spaniards returned to work today, (a select few) construction workers, along with factory, communication and sanitary workers, many will be questioning why yesterday they weren’t allowed to walk outside alone, but today they can sit on public transport.
Although, they may also be wondering where they can get the masks from…
The police have been handing out masks at select metro stations across Madrid in the early hours of the morning.
This was part of the lockdown plan. Two weeks ago, on the 30th March, the government declared that non-essential work would be suspended for two weeks and then reviewed. Today is that end date.
Numbers of deaths have fallen due to measures taken, however the coalition government has come under fire for their management of the virus in recent weeks.
*Update, the government changed their mind last minute on Sunday night. Stopping construction workers returning with only a limited number in specific conditions being allowed to return*
The Right Rhetoric?
On Sunday, 12th April, Pedro Sanchez gave a televised speech to the nation during the traditional Spanish lunch hour.
Whilst announcing that non-essential workers could return to work the next day, the Spanish PM, has also pleaded with political opponents “to de-escalate the political tension”.
Appealing to long-term political rivals the Popular Party (PP) he has called for cross-party working for an economic package that will restructure the economy following the pandemic. PP leader, Pablo Casado, replied that Sanchez was trying to “cover up the incompetence of his management with a pact”.
In recent weeks, the political rhetoric has been variable, with politicians pushing it as far as they can go without getting vilified by the public during this tense time. Despite their rhetoric being too heated at times, most politicians have voted with the government to extend measures.
Indeed, the right wing opposition parties Vox and PP seem to be fighting each other for votes, whilst centre-right party, Cuidudanos have been willing to co-operate, as a result they appear to be the mature of the parties not in government.
PP officials came out in force against Sanchez’s plea for unity, claiming he was acting falsely and that his own party had been hostile.
Adriana Lastra, the PSOE’s spokeswoman, was on the end of this criticism for her language in parliament aimed at their leader Pablo Casado. She was quoted as saying in congress that Casado was “treating the victims of Covid 19 as a resource to attack the Government” and that he was also creating division in society.
The Sunday morning, before his lunchtime speech, Sanchez had a meeting with the presidents of Spain’s autonomous communities via video link.
He acknowledged their frustration in the management of the pandemic being centralised and welcomed their criticism and demands. Times are tense with the regions and will be after the pandemic as Sanchez relies on them for support in his coalition government.
(Apparently, Madrid’s community President was over two hours late to the meeting because she was having her photo taken with medical supplies arriving at the airport.)
Not everyone in the government agrees…
Unidas Podemos have also been critical of their coalition partners,albeit in a more subdued manner. They feel it is too early to lift restrictions on non-essential work.
Naiara Davo based in Valencia said via twitter that
“Either we stop the country or we run out of country. From Podemos, we believe that this is not the time to ruin all the efforts made so far to flatten the curve and save lives. We must sustain the sacrifices a little more.”
Pablo Iglesias, deputy Prime Minister, has been uncharacteristically quiet on the matter but did share an article about workers in Italy.
Make of that what you will.