• State of alarm to be extended to 9 May

Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, announced in a live TV broadcast on Saturday night that he will ask Congress for a new extension of the state of alarm, the third, which will last until May 9He also agreed to “ease” the quarantine of children, up to 12 years of age, from 27 April, so they “are able to get some fresh air”.

Spain’s eight million children have already spent five weeks confined to their homes and there has been growing unease at the risk to their health.

The Barcelona mayor, who has children of her own said, “These children need to get out. We can wait no more: Free our children!”

Sanchez said that he was aware that many children were living in homes of 40-50 sq m (430-540 sq ft) in size and that the youngest should be allowed out in the street again.

Spain imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March that brought economic activity to a near standstill. The government, which has been under pressure from regional governments, parents and some educators to ease the lockdown for children, will begin to do so in nine days.

In his appearance from the Moncloa Palace, Sánchez also said that when the Government is convinced that “the virus is being kept at bay and the health system is ready”, he will introduce a gradual form of “de-escalation” throughout the month of May, but he indicated that reductions would vary by community, depending on the state of the pandemic in each region.

However, he insisted that “the progress made in restricting the pandemic are still insufficient and fragile” so it is still not the time to lift the confinement completely for the entire population.

He announced that there will be different responses depending on the characteristics of each community: “The de-escalation does not have to be the same across the country. The realities are different.” “If we see that the pandemic is better controlled in a particular area, we can go faster,” he said, “bit if we see setbacks in municipalities or territories, we will review and respond accordingly.”

Sánchez also said that the Government will issue an order in the Official State Gazette (BOE) to establish the “price control” of face masks so that “they are available at the same price for all citizens.”

He also reiterated an essential need to maintain social distancing measures as well as hygiene, and follow recommendations such as the use of masks. “They are going to be part of our day to day lives for some considerable time,” he added.

The country with the third highest coronavirus death toll will move slowly, carefully and progressively towards the “new normality”, Sanchez said.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Yolanda Diaz, the Minister of Labour, said on Friday that her department was planning a two-phased economic resumption, the first for productive sectors up to the summer and a second for tourism and leisure which would last until the end of the year.

But any final decision would depend on regional health authorities, her office said in a statement.