The Spanish government announced on Tuesday (21 April) that children under the age of 14 will be allowed to accompany adults on essential errands, allowing youngsters – and politicians – a long-awaited breath of fresh air. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
Youngsters will only be allowed to leave the house to accompany an adult on trips already permitted under the lockdown such as going to the supermarket, pharmacy or bank.
A previous version of the measure only allowed under twelve-year-olds to accompany adults, a move that had provoked a barrage of criticism including from the government’s leftist coalition partner, Unidas Podemos.
Spanish children will have spent six weeks indoors by the time the change to the state of emergency comes into effect on 27 April in what is one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
“The majority of children have stayed in their houses, for which reason the probability that they are infected is very low,” María Jesús Montero, spokesperson for the Socialist Party-led government, told a press briefing.
“We are not relaxing the confinement measures,” she insisted however, saying: “we propose to control them leaving the house”.
Montero said the age bracket of one to 13 was selected because teenagers aged 14 and above were already able to leave the house for errands such as picking up shopping. However, the altered rules do not allow adults to take children out on a walk or to exercise at parks and playgrounds remains off-limits.
According to the lockdown measures currently in place, only one person from each household is allowed out for errands at any given time.
While it must be approved by lawmakers, socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said over the weekend that he would submit a proposal to extend the lockdown until 9 May. The lockdown has been in place since 14 March.
A downward trend
Spain’s health ministry said that 430 people had died in the last 24 hours on Tuesday after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 21,282. Tuesday’s figures represented a small uptick from the previous day, a trend that was attributed to delays in data collection over the weekend.
The number of infections detected in the last 24 hours fell to 3,968, a drop of around 300 cases compared to Monday and around a thousand fewer cases than on Tuesday last week, despite the fact the government had boosted its testing.
“We continue to maintain a clearly downward trend in recent days,” said Fernando Simón, head of the department of public health emergencies.
Authorities have detected 204,178 positive COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began with 9,636 of those picked up by antibody tests, meaning the carriers had overcome the disease and not shown symptoms.
Spain has been the worst-affected country in Europe for confirmed case numbers and second in the world behind the US. When it comes to the death toll, it ranks third in the world behind the US and Italy.
No running of the bulls
Meanwhile, the country’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival was the latest cultural event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Municipal authorities in Pamplona, the northeastern city that opens its doors to a million revellers every year for the week-long festival, said it was a sad decision but could not see how the event could go ahead as scheduled between 6-14 July.
It is the first time that the festival has been postponed due to a pandemic over the last two centuries, despite outbreaks of cholera and Spanish flu at the time, according to historian Miguel Izu.
The last time the festival was delayed — by one day — was in 1997 following the assassination of Popular Party politician Miguel Ángel Blanco by the now-defunct Basque terrorist group ETA.
(Edited by Frédéric Simon)