While EU bureaucrats in Brussels slammed President Trump over the European travel ban, claiming that he left them in the dark with his “unilateral” action, Spain – one of Europe’s largest countries, and the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone – on Sunday said it would adopt a draconian national travel ban on par with the national lockdown taking place in Italy.
Yes, even as Brussels bureaucrats insist that closing borders isn’t necessary, more European leaders are deciding to ignore Brussels and follow in the footsteps of Italy, which has declared a two-week national lockdown, and Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have all closed their borders to foreigners.
On Friday, Spain declared a two-week state of emergency that Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was necessary to help contain the outbreak that has spun out of control since thousands of marchers packed into the streets of Madrid for last weekend’s International Women’s Day march.
On Friday, Sanchez declared the emergency for 15 days, saying that Spain would “mobilize all resources,” including the military, to contain the virus and help reverse the sharp rise in new infections over the past week. Part of the powers invoked by Sanchez allow the federal government to restrict movement of the Spanish people, to legally confiscate items and to seize control of Spanish industrial output – presumably a relic of Spain’s authoritarian past that makes this lockdown more similar to the Chinese Communist Party’s lockdown than anything happening in Italy. Even private hospitals can be commandeered for the government effort. The government can even impose ‘special measures’ to guarantee the food supply for the country. Even April elections in two northern regions could be delayed, the government said.
The decision came after Spain’s case total surpassed 4,000, and deaths climbed above 100. More cases and deaths were reported Saturday morning, along with the latest details about the Spanish emergency measures, which appear to be even more thorough than initially believed. On Saturday, total cases passed 5,000, and the number of confirmed deaths neared 200.
Then on Saturday, the Spanish government decided to kick things up a notch, perhaps having realized that the outbreak is now out of control and more restrictive controls on movement would be needed to contain it.
Spain’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that it would assu,e direct control of all police forces in the country, allowing them to direct police to enforce quarantines, with deadly force if necessary. In Madrid, the epicenter of the Spanish outbreak, a state of emergency will be imposed, including a curfew and lockdown measures intended to restrict movement and ensure social distancing.
El Pais, Spain’s newspaper of record, reported Saturday that the government had prepared a draft decree similar to Italy’s declaring a ‘nationwide lockdown’. According to reports, the lockdown will be rolled out nationwide on Monday, and people would only be able to go out to either work or buy essential items.
As the eurozone’s fourth largest country, Spain has a population of 47 million, roughly 13 million fewer people than Italy.
So far, no news of the lockdown has appeared on official government accounts. Earlier, PM Sanchez tweeted a PSA about ‘social distancing’ and hygiene practices.
Los profesionales sanitarios nos protegen con entrega y sacrificio, pero todos tenemos una misión frente al #Covid19.
Los mayores deben protegerse, evitar a toda costa la exposición. Los jóvenes tienen que mantener la distancia social para frenar contagios. Su papel será crucial. pic.twitter.com/nrWKGCQM6A
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) March 13, 2020
Already, airlines are cancelling flights over Spain’s new measure. British travel company Jet2 has canceled all flights to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. The cancellations were a result of Spain’s new measures, per CNN.
In the Netherlands, which has also seen an alarming spike in cases over the last week, confirmed on Saturday that infections had climbed by 155 TO 959, with two more deaths, while many cases and deaths likely remain unconfirmed.
On the corporate side of things, Apple announced Saturday morning that it would shutter all of its stores outside Greater China. The decision is notably ironic seeing as Apple just finished opening the last of its stores on the mainland late this week. The stores will be closed until March 27.
According to CNN, the company also pledged to commit $15 million to help with the worldwide recovery from the outbreak, “both to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic.”
In the US, while Walmarts, Targets and groceries across the country remain oddly barren of toilet paper, the Pentagon on Saturday suspended all domestic travel for personnel and their families during the outbreak. The new restrictions apply to “all DoD military and civilian personnel and their families assigned to DoD installations, facilities and surrounding areas within the US and its territories,” the department said in the statement, according to BBG.
Overnight, the death toll in the states climbed to 49 as Washington re-took the lead in total confirmed cases from New York, which held it briefly for a few hours Friday afternoon.
Across the US, 46,000 schools have closed, are scheduled to close, or were closed and later reopened, because of the virus outbreak, as 12 states declare two or three-week closures. At least 21 million students in the United States have been or will be affected by the closures. The acting ambassador from Brazil, who attended the dinner with Trump and Pence and Bolsonaro and his infected comms director, has tested positive for Covid-19 after reporting symptoms. But though some said that Trump sounded a little hoarse at yesterday’s press conference, he and his doctors insist he isn’t showing any symptoms.
A Rhode Island elementary school student who got an autograph from one of the Utah Jazz players who tested positive for the virus has also tested positive, shining another uncomfortable light on one player (Rudy Gomert’s) nonchalant and mocking behavior toward the virus, which clearly has a twisted sense of humor.