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Your views: Should Spain’s lockdown be extended?

Around two-thirds of our readers believe Spain’s lockdown should be extended even beyond April 25th at least in some form.

Your views: Should Spain's lockdown be extended?
A woman peeks out from her window in Seville during Semana Santa. Photo: AFP

In a recent survey we asked readers how they felt about the confinement measures put in place by the Spanish government.

Pedro Sanchez initially put Spain in a State of Alarm on March 14th, a measure which saw people confined to their homes except for good reason, such as purchasing essential supplies, visiting vulnerable relatives, or going to the work place if it wasn’t possible to work from home.

Those measures were extended to stop all but key workers from travelling to their workplace, a move that the government said would put the Spanish economy in “hibernation”.

People living in Spain are now approaching a full month in lockdown and commonplace pleasure of meeting friends on a terraza for a caña has become but a distant memory.

But the measures do seem to be working, or so we are told by Spanish health authorities.

The number of deaths per day have dropped and we are seeing both a flattening of the curve in terms of rate of new patients admitted into ICU and of new infections (although without widespread testing the figures are problematic).


But what do people feel about the prospect of extending the lockdown even further, possibly into May?

More than two-thirds of the readers who completed our latest survey said they were in favour of an extension, if that was deemed necessary by the Spanish government.


“It is better the virus is completely under control, it would be worse for the country if it re-appeared and we had yet another lockdown,” explained Elizabeth Macleod, 70, from her home in Calpe on the Costa Blanca.

“We're just on the point of getting it under control,” agreed Andi Catt who is living out in the countryside outside Almódovar del Rio, near Córdoba.  “It would be mad to risk it all now.”

Many expressed a fear of a second wave of the outbreak if measures were lifted too soon.

“We should not let all the gains from the lockdown go down the drain because of too hasty a reopening,” said Maria Pedersen, 64, in Mijas Costa.

Susan Wallace,  73, in Valencia summed it up: “It is too soon to be sure that there won't be a secondary outbreak.”

However, many of those who expressed the view that lockdown should be extended admitted to being retired and not having their income affected by the crisis.

So, not only have they not seen their livelihood threatened but are in the high risk group that is in most danger from covid-19.

“(The country) needs to be totally clear at this stage before risking people’s lives, I am one of the oldies and my husband is diabetic as well as only having one leg,” said Veronica Lilley, 71 in Estepona.  

Peter Roberts,  72, in San Fulgencio, Alicante thought people heading to the coast would reignite the contagion. “Once the all clear has been given people that have the virus but self-isolated will leave their homes, this will restart the pandemic. Also all the second home owners will head for the coast.”

An empty terrace in Calvia, on Mallorca. Photo: AFP

The last thing anyone wants if for the current lockdown to have been in vain: “I believe we stand a better chance if we socially isolate for as long as it is needed. If we lift the restrictions too early the virus may continue spreading and the weeks of lockdown already endured will have been in vain,” said Christine Tull, 73 who lives in Macastre in the Valencia region.

Some admitted that their location in homes with gardens made the restrictions easier to bear.

Jill Robinson, 71, in Roses on the Costa Brava in Catalonia said: “I feel totally isolated but so thankful that I have a garden,” but she added: “I’m worried about others without gardens and the mental effect.”

David Stanley Axon in Comares, Malaga admitted that an extended lockdown would be to his benefit. “I’m 70 years old with a heart condition, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing under strain, oh, and I have a garden.”

Many respondents who felt lockdown should be continued in some form but with a loosening of restrictions, to allow people to go outside in a responsible way and to start up those businesses that didn’t pose too much of a risk.

“I think a better question would be about the extent of the lockdown,” explained Baxter Denney, 37 in Barcelona. “I think it should continue in some format but we should be able to exercise, meet friends privately in our houses, and generally be able to gather in small groups. NOT reopen everything.”

Some feel that although lockdown should continue for as long as necessary, at the very least, Spain should allow people to leave their home once a day to go for a walk or exercise, activity that is allowed in Spain and Germany.

“They need to let us walk once a day,” said Rachel, 29 in Tenerife.  “I live in a block of flats in the Canary Islands. My flat is so so hot and I have no balcony. “The extent of the lockdown is very bad for everyone's mental health. They should allow you half an hour each day away from others.”

But there are some who thought it was time Spain started running again, before the economy was even further damaged.

Deirdre Carney, 41 in Madrid thinks that measures should be lifted to a degree:  “Once the curve flattens the first time, we should follow Sweden's example and have stricter quarantine for the elderly and immuno-compromised if they so choose, but open up the economy by letting everyone else go back to work.

“We can still maintain social distancing measures, such as keeping people who can work from home at home, no gathering of more than 50, only serving coffee and drinks on terraces with spread out tables, and maybe still keeping children out of school through to September,” she said.

Dominque Jacquet, 46 in Orihuela Costa agreed: “Any longer the economy will even be more damaged. Keep the 65 plus and most vulnerable for two months more, and let the young and healthy outside again to restart the economy.”


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Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.