WORLD Ending lockdown abruptly would be 'unforgivable': Spain PM


Ending lockdown abruptly would be 'unforgivable': Spain PM


20:29, May 06, 2020


File photo: CGTN

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday warned that abruptly ending nearly eight weeks of lockdown would be "unforgivable" as he sought parliamentary approval to re-extend the state of emergency.

"Ignoring the risk posed by the epidemic and lifting the state of emergency very quickly would be absolutely wrong, a total, unforgivable error," he told parliament as he sought support for a fresh extension of the measure, which has been rejected by his rightwing opponents.

In place since March 14, the state of emergency has allowed the leftwing coalition government to order a strict confinement of nearly 47 million Spaniards under one of the tightest lockdowns in the world that has only recently been slightly eased.

Extended three times as Spain has sought to fight a virus that has now killed 25,857 people and infected more than 220,000, the current measures are to expire at midnight on Saturday. 

The latest daily death toll on Wednesday showed a slight increase, rising to 244 after three days when it stayed below 200 -- a far cry from the 950 deaths of April 2 when the epidemic peaked. 

"We are progressing very well. It would be very sad if through leaving the lockdown faster than recommended we lost everything we've worked for," warned Fernando Simon, who heads the health ministry's emergencies department.

Earlier this week, Spain's main opposition Popular Party said it would not support any extension of the state of emergency, raising the political stakes as Spain slowly begins easing restrictions that have been in place for more than 50 days.

But thanks to backing from the centre-right Ciudadanos and the Basque PNV, the government should have enough support to push through the measure.  

The most recent easing measures have seen people allowed out for a walk or to do exercise and small businesses permitted to receive customers with a prior appointment.

Last week, the government unveiled plans for a four-phase transition out of the lockdown that is to be completed by the end of June, with the country already engaged in the first preparatory stage.

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