Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez addressed a near-empty Parliament yesterday to explain the measures that the government is taking to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far left 11,681 people infected and 525 dead in Spain.
The speaker of Spain’s lower house of parliament, Meritxell Batet, began the session by stating that the absence of the majority of the 350 MPs was in accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities.
She paid tribute to the people who had died so far in the pandemic, to health workers, the security workers and those who are keeping essential services going, such as supermarket workers and cleaners. “To all of them, many thanks,” she said, to applause in the chamber.
Addressing the house, the prime minister passed on his condolences to the families of those who had lost loved ones. “Those who have died alone. People who have not been able to see their grandchildren. This is a cruel disease,” he said.
“This virus is affecting us all,” he continued. “It’s an unprecedented challenge. A challenge that has forced us to take exceptional measures.
The virus has changed our way of living together. It is reaping human lives and destroying companies. Sometimes we confuse who our enemy is. Ours is a virus, to which we need to respond forcefully.”
This is the time for cooperation and solidarity.
He also had a warning: “The hardest part is yet to come.”
The prime minister also warned about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “GDP will fall,” he warned. “2020 will not have 12 months, but rather 10 or even nine.” But, he added, “if we manage to maintain employment levels, the recovery will be fast.”
“The government will present a budget for social and economic reconstruction. We want to count on the support of all political forces for its approval.
There will be time for opposition, we are at the start of the political term, and we will do this when we have beaten the virus and evaluated the economic and social impact of this emergency. We will present a budget once the health emergency is over.”