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BIRTHRATE

How the pandemic has made Spain’s birthrate drop to its lowest in 80 years

The strict lockdown and home confinement which lasted almost 2.5 months last year, has led to Spain’s lowest monthly birthrate since records began.

New parents with baby

Only 23,226 babies were born in December 2020, which is 20.4 percent less than in the same month of 2019.

Despite many predicting a baby boom because of lockdowns, the statistics agency INE has said that this is the lowest figure since 1941 when the birth records began and have blamed the pandemic for this.

The babies born during December 2020, would have been conceived nine months earlier during the home confinement period in March-April 2020, showing that Spaniards did not want to add to or start a family during such as uncertain time.

“Although the number of births has been showing a constant downward trend for several years, the decline has been accentuated nine months after the confinement of the Spanish population during the first state of alarm due to covid-19,” said the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

Spanish women now have an average of 1.23 children, compared with 2.8 in 1975, due to several factors including the lack of financial stability, having children later in life, and people wanting fewer children.  

Spain’s birthrate is now the second-lowest in Europe after Malta and continues to suffer the consequences of the double recession and financial crisis in 2008-2012.

2019 had already been a historic year for falling birthrates at only 360,617 births said the INE, but the first half of 2020 set a new record, seeing only 168,047 births and showing a 4.2 percent decline from the first half of 2019. Full figures for 2020 have not yet been released.

“The numbers coincide with what we’d been expecting and what we’re seeing in other countries,” explains Diego Ramiro, director of the Institute of Economics, Geography and Demographics at the National Research Council (CSIC).

Births in Italy declined by 21.6 percent in December 2020 and dropped by 13 percent in France in January 2021, the lowest level since World War II.

Demographic experts across Europe have predicted a drop in birthrates throughout the continent in 2021, as young people of childbearing age have suffered some of the worst economic blows due to closures and job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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