Spanish government U-turns over lockdown restrictions on children

‘We erred on the side of caution,’ says Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Spanish government U-turns over lockdown restrictions on children

Children under 14 will be allowed to go for a walk with one parent in Spain from April 26, after the government bowed to public pressure over a decision to ease restrictions on younger kids.

Health Minister Salvador Illa announced the decision late Tuesday, saying the government will issue guidance in the coming hours on how long and how far from home children will be allowed to go.

The decision marks a further change to the policy announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Saturday: that children under 12 will be allowed to leave their homes. The government had already shifted early Tuesday by extending the age to 14 but said children would only be able to accompany a parent while they go shopping or to the bank.

About 6.8 million children aged under 14 have been in strict confinement in their homes for the last five weeks, unlike the lockdowns in some other countries where kids are allowed to go outside.

Speaking in congress on Wednesday morning to request backing from lawmakers for a third extension of the state of alarm to May 9, Sánchez said of the shift on measures impacting children that “this is a government that listens.”

“It’s true, we erred on the side of caution, our children are everything for us,” he said. The government’s scientific and health advisers had recommended ministers to lift restrictions on children “with the outmost caution,” he added.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Michel to skip joint leaders’ statement for videoconference

Heads of state and government will meet virtually but won't issue informal conclusions.

Michel to skip joint leaders’ statement for videoconference

European Council President Charles Michel will not even try to get EU leaders to agree on a joint statement during a videoconference meeting on Thursday, senior officials said.

Facing a potentially divisive debate over how to finance the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, Michel will instead issue a presidential statement that does not require the unanimity of the 27 heads of state and government. It requires only his own stamp of approval.

“We don’t think this is the time for a drafting session in the European Council,” a senior EU official said Wednesday.

Because the videoconference of EU leaders does not qualify as a formal meeting of the European Council, it is not possible to issue legally binding conclusions like the formal joint statements issued after traditional summits. Those conclusions typically require extensive negotiations, which begin long before the leaders gather in Brussels and continue during the summit — sometimes through the night.

The most recent videoconference was nearly upended when Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte threatened to block an informal joint statement over a dispute over the proposal for a joint debt instrument known as “corona bonds” to help finance the recovery.

This time, leaders are due to discuss a proposal for a large recovery fund, potentially financed through the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework. And Michel seems unwilling to risk further division by trying to accomplish an informal joint statement that in any case would not have force of law.

“These videoconferences are different than a Council and it is extremely difficult when you enter in some sort of a draft to make things work,” the official said.

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Source : Politico EU More   

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