This Saturday just a year ago since the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, appeared almost at dinner time at Moncloa to announce what was already feared, that the constant increase in coronavirus infections forced him to decree -the next day- a state of alarm to impose home confinement throughout the country.
365 days later, the pandemic is still with us, albeit in a much less virulent way, and we are heading towards the end of a second and longer state of alarm , lasting six months. It will be lifted on May 9 but the restrictions may not stay there. Sánchez faces this first anniversary of the pandemic open to the possibility of decreeing it for the third timeif the data is still not good enough.
While the conversations are filled with comments about how life has changed in the last year and the last times we did this or that thing before confinement, and newspapers, radios and televisions remember with specials the anniversary of that March 14 , the President of the Government has not planned any public event to commemorate the first anniversary of the first state of alarm, which was activated in some of the most traumatic moments of the pandemic.
According to the Government, after the extraordinary Council of Ministers on Friday, his public agenda will continue on Monday with a Spanish-French summit, in which he will meet with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron,in Montauban, where they will take the opportunity to visit the grave of Manuel Azaña.
In this apparent normalcy, the government machinery has already begun to contemplate the possibility that the state of alarm will continue beyond May 9 , when the second currently in force will be lifted.
The spigot was opened early on Friday by the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias , and it was enlarged a little more hours later by the Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero .
Everything, at the gates of a Holy Week in which Spain is playing that there is a fourth wave that would definitively disrupt the downward evolution of the pandemic at this time and that would make the possibility of another state of alarm more certain.
Darias did not rule out such a possibility. ” We have to see it, now what we are doing is lowering the incidence,” he said in an interview with RNE. Until now, the threshold indicated by the Government was a cumulative incidence (AI) of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants but this Friday the Minister of Health narrowed it more.
When this figure is reached, we will seek to reach a “normal scenario”, in half, with an incidence of 25 cases.
“When these dates approach [May 9] the committee of experts will be consulted, the group of people who are advising Health and based on the prevalence and accumulated incidence we will adopt the decisions and it will be transferred if it is recommended to prolong or no, “Montero added shortly after from the Moncloa press room.
The Government affirms that at the moment it is “hasty” and that the decision has not been taken at the moment because it will depend on how controlled the pandemic is in May.
However, a third state of alarm is already an option that the Government does not rule out if the accumulated incidence is not at that moment in 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days or even in the “search” of that AI of 25 cases to which Darias referred.
This Friday, the general AI in Spain was 130.51 , following a constant decrease that, however, is becoming slower . It falls within the normal range according to experts, who say that it is easier to lower the figures when they are very high than when they are less.
Two different alarms
The first state of alarm that was decreed now a year ago was not the same as the second that has been in force since October. In March 2020 it was a home confinement and it was renewed for 15 days until it was lifted on June 21.
After the summer, the Government wanted and obtained from Congress a second state of alarm lasting six months but with notably more lax conditions , which today are based particularly on the restriction of movements between communities and limitations on social gatherings and night curfews.
In the first state of alarm, the central government concentrated all power , with decisions that, depending on the case, it communicated or tried to reach a consensus with regional leaders in the Conference of Presidents.
In October the model gave rise to the so-called ” co- governance”, the central government turned each regional president into delegated authorities and the Interterritorial Health Council, which brings together Darias with the advisers of the branch, relieved the Conference of Presidents as the star body.
At the gates of a Holy Week that will be crucial to see in what situation Spain will arrive on May 9, everything indicates that an eventual third state of alarm would maintain the current system of “surgical” measures within a catalog agreed upon by all the communities and applied according to their epidemiological situation.