Sánchez believes the answer to the sixth wave to the outdoor mask and vaccination

  • The mask will be mandatory from Friday 24, although not in rural areas. The Government does not promote more restrictions for now, and delegates to the autonomies to impose more limitations if they want

  • The Council of Ministers meets in an extraordinary way this Thursday to approve the royal decree law with new measures

The Government’s recipe to face the new wave of covid, the sixth already, is based on two axes: the return of the mandatory outdoor mask from this Friday, December 24 –just six months later relaxation of its use— and the acceleration of vaccination. Additionally, the hiring of more personnel will be facilitated to try to unload a saturated primary care and more will be made available to citizens. antigen test For self-diagnosis, military personnel will be reinforced. But there will be no general restrictions, applicable to the entire country, because the Executive considers that the moment today is different, that the epidemiological and hospital situation of December 2021 cannot be compared with that of a year ago or with the start of the pandemic. The government does rest in the autonomies, yes, the possibility of imposing capacity limitations or closures of activities.

On these two pillars, masks and immunization (third dose and vaccination of children), Pedro Sanchez built his proposal to the communities in the XXV Conference of Presidents, convened urgently and held this Wednesday afternoon electronically and in the Senate and just two days before Christmas Eve. A time when the reproaches due to inaction in the face of the unbridled increase in infections: Spain has exceeded the maximum number of infections of the pandemic for the second consecutive day by notifying 60,041 new cases. Sánchez proposed minimum measures and there were, therefore, no surprises. The socialist leader told them that he will reunite the Minister council this Thursday in an extraordinary and monographic way to approve a royal decree law with a new battery of measures, led by the use of the mask in the street, and committed to a periodic analysis with them, every ten days, of the evolution of the pandemic. “Science and prevention are the answers “with which the Executive believes that this sixth wave can be” circumvented, Sánchez defended later at a press conference in the upper house, at the end of a summit that lasted for three hours.

Several presidents, especially Pere Aragonès (Catalonia, ERC), Iñigo Urkullu (Basque Country, PNV) and Alberto Núñez Feijóo (PP), considered “insufficient”The new tools and asked to tighten the nuts more before the risk of greater stress on the health system. Other barons of the PP were also demanding, while those of the PSOE seconded the position of their leader. At the other extreme, and it wasn’t surprising, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the Madrid president, who rejected outdoor masks and recourse to military trackers and entrusted herself to tests, vaccines and the “self care”. What was a general claim, common to the presidents of both signs, was the articulation of a third covid fund, a request to which the Government refuses because it considers that the 7,000 million already budgeted By 2022, although “there will be no problem” in increasing resources if necessary, Sánchez reassured.

The caveats

As the president detailed at the start of this conference (number 19 since the outbreak of the pandemic), the Council of Ministers this Thursday will approve the royal decree law that will make the mask mandatory outdoors, six months later to relax its use. The mask will be necessary on the street from Friday 24, Christmas Eve. The Government, after listening to the requests of several presidents (Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Galicia; Javier Lambán, Aragon; Fernando Lopez Miras, Murcia, o Alfonso Fernández Manueco, Castilla y León), will introduce exceptions in this obligation: thus, it will not be necessary to carry this protection when doing sports or when a person is “in the field or in a natural area”. That is to say, in rural areas, on beaches or in the mountains, you will only have to put on the mask when the interpersonal distance of 1.5 meters with someone who is not living together cannot be guaranteed.

The mandatory nature of the mask will be temporary and will decline “as soon as possible”. Sánchez alleged that she had been claimed by a “vast majority of presidents”. It’s true but collide with the scientific community, which has been insisting that contagions outdoors are minimal, while the risk increases in poorly ventilated interiors, against which the Executive does not act, although it does support the actions taken by the communities, which are the ones they have. the competencies. Spain will therefore not align itself with other neighboring countries, which have promoted less lax measures.

The president, therefore, took refuge in the fact that his Government collects the “witness“Of what the majority of autonomies have raised and in which the mask has been tested as a”effective tool“,” Essential “to prevent infections, especially since the omicron variant is highly contagious. The presidents, it is true, supported the proposal almost unanimously. He rejected it outright Ayuso (It should be a “recommendation” only) and the Aragonese president, the socialist Javier Lambán, does not think it necessary. The members of the Executive, however, they criticized the measure as “useless”.

In parallel, intensify and accelerate the vaccination process: 80% of those aged between 60 and 69 years will have to receive the third dose before the end of 2021; 80% between 50 and 59 years old, by January 24; 80% between 40 and 49, in the first week of March; 70% of children between 5 and 11 years old, with the first dose for February 7 and with the second for April 19. The third puncture will also extend to those under 40. Sánchez explained that those who were administered the Pfizer or Moderna serum will receive the third dose six months after the last. In the case of those vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Janssen, it will be at three months. Those who have been infected after receiving the complete guideline will have the third puncture when they are recovered and awaiting what the Vaccine Conference decides. The socialist leader added that there will be no supply difficulties: Spain has a reserve of eight million doses and there will be 90 million in 2022.

292 million euros

In addition, to alleviate primary care, the number of available health professionals will be increased and their working conditions will be improved, reducing temporary work to below 8%. Budgets will allocate 292 million euros to this plan, most of it transferred to the communities. The Government will also allow the autonomies to hire retired and pre-retired health personnel and will enable the hiring of professionals with a specialist degree obtained in states outside the EU. Will be issued temporary authorizations to allow the sale in pharmacies of certain antigen tests for professional use so that they are available to the population. This is to alleviate the lack of these kits. Sánchez anticipated that he expects supply increase next week.

The president proposed to reinforce the immunization devices with vaccination equipment from the Armed Forces, and they will be made available to the communities hospitals of the military health network. Communities will be able to access 150 mobile vaccination teams, and also the Gómez Ulla Hospital in Madrid or the General Defense Hospital in Zaragoza as support centers. The Executive also maintains activated the mechanism to request military trackers as an “additional” resource. Right now, he explained, there are 1,052 active troops.

As the Public Health Commission approved yesterday, he noted, quarantines are relaxed: people who have had direct contact with someone infected should not isolate themselves if they are vaccinated with a full schedule. He also recalled that as approved by the European Commission, as of February 1, 2022, the period of validity of the immunization will be 9 months from the date of administration of the last dose. This is to encourage the third puncture.

Sánchez insisted that Spain is neither like when the pandemic started nor like a year ago, because the vaccination It has allowed the level of infections not to be transferred to hospitalizations or ICU admissions. But why not restrictions indoors, in restaurants, or at nightlife? The president stressed that communities can add recommendations or arbitrate complementary measures within the framework of their powers, but believes that mask and immunization will serve to stop this sixth wave.

Several presidents were more demanding. Urkullu, the first to speak, warned that “criteria and measures” are needed in the face of very high infection rates and in the face of “obvious stress” in primary care. The Basque president insisted that the communities do not have the “sufficient” legal tools to deal with the covid, which is why, in his opinion, an agreement that favors “legal certainty” would be necessary. Urkullu demanded that the maximum closing time be established at one in the morning, limit the capacity at social, cultural or sporting events; limit the maximum consumption of 10 people per table, prohibit consumption standing up or recommend that Christmas lunches and dinners bring together a maximum of 10 people and two family units.

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For Pere Aragonès, “unpopular but essential” measures are needed, because the third dose “It cannot be the only way to combat this sixth wave“We cannot wait until February or March when we have protection” from the reinforcement puncture, he argued, because by then the impact of the virus could be of such caliber that it could “block and collapse the health system.” Feijóo, as did the The other regional presidents of the PP, and in line with what the national leadership of his party demands, demanded a pandemic law, but he was also one of those that believed necessary to impose restrictions, such as extending the covid certificate “to all areas that are possible. “, apply the covid traffic light to order the interiors according to the incidence or quarantine the positive contacts, except for those with three doses. He also believes that the advisability of “celebrating New Year’s Eve party favors and organizing parades in a static way should be considered.” Feijóo, therefore, was located light years from Ayuso, from his own formation.

The Government does not agree to prohibit the end of the year parties, although the evolution of the pandemic will continue to be analyzed, he alleged. And he also believes that the Kings parades can be celebrated because at the beginning of 2021, when there were no vaccines, they could be celebrated, so in 2022 children and their families will be able to enjoy them (“our children deserve them”), avoiding crowds and without leaving the mask. However, despite what the president affirmed, this year they were canceled in many cities.

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