(Bloomberg) -- Spain has earmarked 9 billion euros ($10.2 billion) to help fund regional governments’ healthcare response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The central government will transfer 6 billion euros in September and as much 3 billion in November, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised statement Sunday. The measure will be approved by the cabinet through a decree on June 16, Sanchez said.
Sanchez announced at the beginning of May the creation of a 16 billion-euro reconstruction fund to help regional administrations face the economic consequences of the pandemic. The regions had already urged Sanchez to clarify the criteria to allocate the funds.
The 9 billion euros on healthcare spending was reduced from an original plan of devoting 10 billion euros. Separately, the government revised its plan to add as much as 2 billion euros in spending for education, by scrapping another 1 billion for social spending. It’s earmarking 5 billion to offset the drop in tax revenue due to the crisis.
The government has decided to set aside funds for the education system, changing its original plan to allocate 1 billion for the social spending and decreasing by another billion the amount initially allocated to the health care system.
Sanchez has also announced that the new rules for what he has dubbed as the “new normal,” once the lockdown is lifted on June 21, will be approved next week. The use of face masks will still be compulsory in public transport and indoor spaces for people older than 6 years and if needed, special licenses will be granted to produce drugs and protection equipment.
More measures will also be implemented to avoid crowds in public transport. “The threat of a new outbreak isn’t an invention and we must avoid it at all costs,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez has also given new details on what the government calls a living minimum wage, which was approved in May. The dedicated government web page received 21 million visits in only one week, he said, adding that 255,000 people, or 75,000 households, will receive payments on June 26.
The prime minister also said that he sent a joint letter with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, asking for European Union coordination in reopening borders with third countries outside the Schengen space. “We believe Europe has to lead a coordinated effort,” he said.
With the both the number of coronavirus cases and fatalities stabilizing, the parliament approved this week the last extension of Sanchez’s the state of emergency powers, which are now set to end at the end of June.
Lockdown rules will be meanwhile relaxed starting from Monday, with bullrings allowed to open again and bars and night clubs also going back to business in those regions, including about of half of the country, entering the fourth and last phase of the easing.
The Balearic Islands, a highly popular European destination among the least-hit Spanish regions by the outbreak, will nonetheless keep its bars and night clubs shut, according the latest rules published in the local Official Gazette Sunday.
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