5:07 p.m. ET, May 20, 2020
Spain's state of emergency extended for 5th time in tight parliamentary vote
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez wears a face mask during a parliamentary plenary session on May 20.
Andres Ballesteros/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
In a tight vote, the Spanish Parliament on Wednesday narrowly approved the fifth extension of the country’s state of emergency for another two weeks.
The state of emergency will last until June 7.
Now in its tenth week, the extended state of emergency, which has been in place since March 14, will allow the Spanish government to continue regulating restrictions on movement with the aim of controlling the coronavirus for a total of 12 weeks.
Some context: The lengthy state of emergency has widened political rifts in Spain, with the right and far right accusing the government of ineptitude in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, blaming it for tens of thousands of deaths, and holding it responsible for the country’s economic nosedive.
Speaking ahead of the vote in Spain’s lower chamber, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that in the fight against Covid-19, "the state of emergency and de-escalation have worked, the state of emergency will not last one day longer than it needs to."
Sánchez was firm in his position that “there is no alternative to the state of emergency” and lifting it now “would be an extraordinary irresponsibility."
Spain imposed some of Europe’s strictest confinement and de-escalation measures, gradually lifting restrictions asymmetrically across the country starting in early May, depending on infection rates and the capacity of health institutions in its territories.
The prime minister said the country is “in the last few meters [yards] of the state of emergency."
Spain is among countries with the world’s highest coronavirus infection and death numbers; but has managed to significantly bring those down in recent weeks.