Spain to Extend Lockdown as Coronavirus Deaths Pass 20,000

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The Spanish government plans to extend a nationwide lockdown by two weeks, after the country became the third nation to report more than 20,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plan, which requires parliamentary approval, would extend a stay-at-home order to May 9. While the bulk of the confinement rules will stay in place, children will be allowed to leave their homes under strict rules as of April 27, he told reporters on Saturday. Without an extension, Spain’s state of emergency would expire on April 25.

Spain’s Health Ministry on Saturday reported an additional 565 deaths for a total of 20,043, though the pace of new infections and deaths is slowing.

“Spain has contained the brutal attack of the pandemic,” Sanchez said in a nationally televised speech before the news conference. “The gains aren’t enough yet, and they are fragile.”

The process of lifting the lockdown “will be slow,” he said.

The country has been in lockdown since March 14, when the government ordered a halt to most economic activity and imposed severe restrictions on movement. Demands have been growing to allow children to leave home and go out.

Sanchez said restrictions would be lifted at different speeds across the country and the government would work in May on plans for scaling back the lockdown.

While the government needs approval from Congress to extend the state of emergency, the leader of the main opposition party backed previous extensions and has said he’d support another one.

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