By Adaya González and Patricia de Arce
Madrid, Jun 20 (efe-epa).- Spain’s state of alarm, the emergency mechanism propping up the nationwide lockdown to contain Covid-19, expires at midnight on Saturday, three months and one week after it first came into effect.
In an unprecedented situation during the country’s history, residents of Spain battened down the hatches for 98 days and watched developments unfold.
It was a cocktail of fear and curiosity about how such an unprecedented situation would leave its mark on the country.
The days under lockdown in Spain progressed at varying speeds. Some felt frozen in time.
But with the gradual easing of restrictions several weeks ago, life has slowly returned to the streets, squares, shops, highways, factories, offices, bars and beaches up and down the country.
On 14 March, prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s government turned to the constitution to enact the state of alarm.
It was only the second time in Spain’s modern democratic era that such an extraordinary move had been deemed necessary.
Back in 2010, the government took similar measures during the air traffic controllers’ strike, but the emergency mechanism only lasted 15 days.
The Covid-19 state of alarm was also initially imposed for 15 days but was eventually extended six times.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Spanish health authorities are now certain coronavirus has been circulating in the country’s population well before February.
But from the time the first official case was reported on 31 January until the following month, the expert advice to the general public had been to observe stricter hygiene protocol and little else.
It remained this way until 9 March, one day after the crowded International Women’s Day March in Madrid.
At this point, alarm bells began to ring as the number of infections doubled to 1,204 nationwide and the number of fatalities climbed to 28.
That day ushered in the early indications of what was to come, as the government ordered a two-week closure of schools and urged employees to work at home where possible.