Spain extends virus aid until end of October
Spain’s cabinet approved Tuesday the extension of measures to protect the most vulnerable from economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including a moratorium on home evictions until November.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s coalition government first approved the package of social measures in March 2020 during the height of the first wave of the pandemic in Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit nations.
The so-called “social shield” includes a ban on leaving impoverished families without water, electricity and other utilities and a moratorium on forced residential evictions for those who saw their income vanish due to the pandemic.
The measures were to expire on August 9 but Sanchez’s cabinet extended them until October 31.
“Hopefully health indicators will tell us then that we can face the future without the shield,” government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez told a news conference after the cabinet meeting, adding the measures aim to “protect the most vulnerable”.
Spain’s economy contracted sharply by 10.8 percent in 2020, one of the worst results in the eurozone, with its key tourism sector battered by the pandemic travel restrictions.
But it returned to growth in the second quarter of 2021 and the government predicts it will expand by 6.5 percent this year.
That has helped bring Spain’s unemployment rate down to 15.3 percent in the April-June period from 16 percent in the previous quarter, although it remains well above the 13.8 percent rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 before the pandemic hit.
The country of around 47 million people has reported 4.5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 81,000 deaths.