Despite Spain’s strict rules over mask-wearing, the country is not beating Coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already launched an investigation to discover what the main problem is and why the capital, Madrid, could return into lockdown.
The most recent statistics from the 26th of October show Spain to have 1.116.738 cases of COVID-19. Of these increasing cases, 298,823 were in Madrid, followed by the 212.135 infections in Barcelona.
This condition is depressing Spain’s economy. The WHO claims that the flare-ups in Spain are not a reason to blame on the Government and that Spanish citizens have followed the government guidelines correctly. The WHO has attributed the rise in cases to simply ‘bad luck’.
Ayuso versus Sánchez
The situation in Spain has made it one of the worst countries for Coronavirus. It has reported one of the highest infection rates in Europe. This number of infections has caused tension between the President of the Government Pedro Sánchez and the President of Madrid’s community Isabel Díaz Ayuso. President Sánchez has declared that the capital must maintain its state of alert because of the increase in infection.
Despite the rise, Ayuso has reassured the public that Madrid is enforcing all of the relevant social distancing guidelines. She has declared that the number of critical cases and the amount of people in hospital is lower than what President Sánchez has reported.
The Economic Recovery
What is true is that if there is another lockdown it will significantly affect Spain’s economy. The Spanish government is already negotiating with the EU to access recovery funds to deal with the crisis as quickly as possible. So that Spain’s national recovery plan can start from January 2021 according to Nadia Calviño, Spain’s Economic Minister. If the negotiations are successful, the country will receive around €140 billion in grants and loans from a €750 billion EU relief package.
It is Spain’s working classes that have suffered the most as COVID-19 has ripped apart the economy. The poorest neighbourhoods in Madrid have already been disproportionately affected. They have reported the highest rates of infection and now, they are going to be penalised once again.
Spain’s working classes
After the first lockdown, many local businesses had no other option but to close their doors. One of the most important customers in Spain is tourists. Spanish local businesses rely on tourists to boost the economy. Without them, locals cannot survive. This is why the businesses owners have requested additional support from the Government to protect their companies and livelihoods.
Joan Carles Tasies is the owner of one of Barcelona’s most famous shops, Manual Alpargatera. He has said that the COVID-19 crisis has damaged his business. He said that it would be hard to return the shop’s spirit from before the virus.
Toni Sánchez is another business owner who is worried about his bakery. “I’m not just worried about the economic crisis but the other bakeries with processed baked goods. People prefer buying cheaper food than our traditional and good quality products”.
In the case of another lockdown, these workers may not have enough savings to see out the situation. This is one of the reasons why the WHO has not recommended that Spain enter into another lockdown. The WHO has argued that: ‘closing premises would only make poor people poorer’.
We can see that there is a clear disagreement over how to deal with the situation in Spain, especially in the capital. The government is trying to solve the crisis and do the best for its citizens. There are other areas like Catalonia that are paying close attention to Sánchez’s statements.
In response, they have adopted stricter rules than in the capital. Catalonia has limited meetings to a maximum of 6 people and imposed restrictions on shops, gyms and religious ceremonies. Furthermore, for 15 days, the restaurants, cafes and beauty centres will be closed to the public. These rules were introduced on the 15th of October until the end of the month. They have also requested companies to have their employees working from home where possible.
Although these rules are already in place and citizens are generally abiding by them, Catalonia remains an area where the number of infections is constantly getting higher. 30,107 people have been instructed to self- isolate after being exposed to COVID-19 in primary and secondary schools in the region. 28,361 are students, 1505 teachers and administration staff and 241 are day members.
This situation needs to be controlled to bring down the rate of infection, so the autonomous Catalonian government and the Catalan Health Service have declared that people from Barcelona must stay at home and reduce any social meetings as much as possible. The more Spain works from home now, they will be freer to meet in person after winter passes.