As coronavirus cases continue to climb in Spain, the government has announced a relief package to deal with the growing health and economic emergencies.
Speaking via video link, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) said his government will inject €1 billion into the health system and transfer a further €2.8 billion to regional authorities to help them shore up their healthcare services.
The announcement came as the number of infections in Spain rose to 3,000 and deaths reached 84, with a further 189 people declared as having recovered from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, investor fears caused Spain’s blue-chip Ibex 35 index to plunge by a record-setting 14.06%.
Sánchez said that besides the health package, the government will also introduce measures to provide economic relief to businesses, including a six-month moratorium on tax payments for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the self-employed.
“This is an important measure that will facilitate the injection of €14 billion into the system,” Sánchez said, whose Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias is currently quarantined at home after his partner, Equality Minister Irene Montero, tested positive for coronavirus.
The travel industry will be eligible for a €400 million credit line from the stateowned lender.
Hotel occupancy rates are already down by 80% in the Mediterranean provinces of Valencia and Castellón, while travel agencies are being flooded with cancellations.
The sudden health crisis is rapidly altering the economic and political scenario in Spain, where only a week ago it would have seemed impossible for the center-right party Ciudadanos to offer Sánchez support to get his budget passed.
Yet yesterday, new Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas said her group would be willing to support an emergency spending plan.
The PM said measures have also been introduced allowing state agencies to purchase basic goods and services to ensure there are no shortages.
Sánchez has also recommended remote working and the closure of schools across the country, not just in the high-transmission areas – Madrid, La Rioja and parts of the Basque Country.
He also said people should avoid travel whenever possible.