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Spain being placed on coronavirus lockdown, limiting movements

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The Spanish government on Saturday declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis, putting the country of 46 million on lockdown. The move, effective Monday, is an extraordinary measure meant to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 5,000 people and resulted in 200 deaths across the country.

Spanish residents will be permitted to leave their homes only in cases of necessity: grocery shopping, medical assistance and work. Companies are encouraged to allow their employees to work from home.

Schools and universities across the country will remain closed. Bars and restaurants will shut their doors.

Speaking to the Spanish public, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez laid out his vision for the state of emergency, which he said will be in place initially for 15 days.

‘We are prepared for the state of alarm. We have the ideas, clear policies, and our hands will not tremble as we win against the virus.” he said. “The measures we are taking are drastic and unfortunately are going to have consequences.”

The Spanish government approved of the measures after a daylong meeting Saturday.

Spain follows Italy in announcing sweeping measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. And on Friday, the World Health Organization declared Europe the new epicenter of the illness.

Spaniards had been awaiting the measure for days as the situation in the country has worsened.

Many cities, including Sevilla, have canceled their Semana Santa processions — one of the biggest tourists events of the year. The city of Valencia postponed its famous Fallas festival, originally scheduled for this week.

In Catalonia, the regional government already declared a lockdown and requested the central government to restrict access to the region.

More than 100 countries have barred people coming from Spain from entering their country. Airlines that operate in Spain have canceled thousands of flights.

The Catalan town of Igualada has been shut down for two days, after 49 coronavirus cases — the majority involving health providers — cropped up.

On Thursday, officials cut off highways and rural roads into the town of 39,000.

While pharmacies and grocery stores remain open, many have opted to only allow two or three customers in at a time, according to resident Marta Rodríguez, 29. As a result, residents form long lines outside the establishments — taking care to ensure they stand several feet apart.

On Thursday, when Rodríguez took a bus to Barcelona to get to her job as an educator, people were panicky, she said.

“It was stressful. When someone coughed, we were afraid.”

After learning Igualada had been shut down, Rodríguez said she felt strange.

“It was a sensation of closing in,” Rodríguez said. “I suppose as young people who haven’t lived during times of war, we wondered, ‘What is this, to be closed in here?’ ”

At least, Rodríguez said, neighbors are friendly to one another. When she goes to walk her dog, she waves at other passersby — though at a distance. And while working from home has proved a strange experience, she is grateful to have a terrace.

Rodríguez turns 30 in three weeks. While she won’t have the big celebration she had dreamed of, she hopes she can spend her birthday with friends.

“I hope I don’t have to celebrate inside my house,” she said.



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Written by Survivalist

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