Spain loosens lockdown for housebound youngsters



April 22 ------ Spain on Tuesday said children — who have been housebound for nearly six weeks — can go out for walks from the weekend, further easing a virus lockdown. Earlier Tuesday, Spain had said under 14s would be allowed to accompany an adult going for essential work like shopping or to the pharmacy or bank or to walk the dog, but in an about-turn in the evening, relaxed those conditions for children. “I will authorise children to go for a walk from Sunday,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference, adding that the measure concerned “those under 14.” Going out for a walk was strictly off-limits in Spain, which imposed one of the world’s most restrictive lockdowns on March 14. Illa said the modalities of such outings would be spelt out in the course of the week but added that there would be strict guidelines. “We are not in a phase of de-escalation (of the confinement measures), we are in a phase of confinement,” Illa said. Earlier, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said after a cabinet meeting that there was a “slight easing of the lockdown. “We are asking fathers and mothers to be responsible,” she said. The relaxation comes after repeated calls for an easing of the strictures from parties across the political spectrum. “I have been asking for 10 days that the children should be allowed to go out … but not to go with their parents to crowded places that present a risk of contagion,” tweeted Pablo Casado, head of the conservative Popular Party. The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, a prominent figure in the far-left, echoed him. “Children must be able to go out to breathe fresh air,” Colau tweeted. And the head of Spain’s hard left Podemos party Pablo Iglesias, one of the country’s vice-presidents, added: “Children must be able to go out on the roads to breathe fresh air during short and supervised walks.” Spain has suffered the world’s third-most deadly outbreak of the virus, which has so far killed 21,282 people with the government twice extending the lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic. Parliament is expected to approve another extension until May 9 later this week. The government has come under increasing pressure from paediatricians and regional officials to allow children out, warning of the physical and mental health risks of prolonged confinement. Spain’s restrictions on children are the tightest in Europe. Italy, which has the world’s second-highest death toll, allows youngsters out if accompanied by a parent and France lets minors out for a brief walk with their parents. Source: mb.com.ph