Spain's health minister, Salvador Illa

Spain's health minister, Salvador Illa.

18-12-2020Efe

Spain's health minister, Salvador Illa, said on Friday that the circumstances for a "total confinement" (lockdown) do not exist now and will not in the near future. The epidemiological situations in countries which have made lockdown decisions are not the same as in Spain.

Illa explained that the second wave started later in other countries and that measures in Spain were adopted earlier. "We have taken drastic measures when they have been necessary."

At the beginning of November, Illa observed, adequate measures were applied by regional governments and the growth in infections stabilised. "What has happened is that they have been relaxed. This creates an increase to which we must react."

He empathised with business sectors affected by the measures but insisted that difficult months lay ahead during which measures will have to be taken. He appealed for responsibility, adding that Christmas can be celebrated "safely and properly" and in a different way.

The minister welcomed the European Union's agreement to begin vaccination between December 27 and 29. Highlighting the coordination between countries, he stressed that there will be an equitable distribution of doses, that Spain will have 140 million and that there will be a vaccine for everyone.

Illa emphasised that he will be vaccinated - "without doubt". However, politicians will be treated like other citizens and will only be vaccinated when the health service starts the programme of general vaccination after priority groups. If there are doses left over, he explained that these will be donated to other countries.

Making the vaccine compulsory has been ruled out. People are free to make the decision not to have it, but he asked that they think carefully about the effect this will have on themselves and on others. "Out of respect for civic duty and solidarity, it is necessary to be vaccinated."

By next summer, things will be different because a significant percentage of the population will have been vaccinated. But on the wearing of masks, Illa noted that we must be "prudent".

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