At a press conference held mid-morning on Tuesday the government announced that children would be able to leave their homes from Sunday 26 April, to visit supermarkets, banks and pharmacies, when accompanied by a parent, but by early evening it had been forced into carrying out a ‘u-turn’ after criticism from across the entire nation.
Following the initial announcement, the disapproval was such that the government quickly changed its mind with the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, appearing before a hastily arranged press conference to announce that “this is a government that listens”, to the experts and to society.
Illa said that as the Minister of Health he is able to make “certain decisions to relieve confinement ” and, therefore, he has now decided to allow children to take walks outside starting next Sunday.
The original measure agreed on Tuesday by the Council of Ministers, which affects a total of 6.8 million children between 0 and 14 years of age, caused a near riot amongst health organizations, autonomous communities and political parties, including Podemos, a partner in the Government, who unanimously agreed that the announcement was ridiculous.
When asked by reporters why the Cabinet had changed it’s mind on the issue of minors, if, as he had stated earlier that day, it had taken into account the opinion of experts before reaching its original decision, Illa said that “the government is going to continue acting with maximum caution, and being very conscious of the tough measures” that are currently in place.
Illa then went on to say “This weekend I will issue an order so that children aged 14 and under can go out for walks.” He added that the conditions under which minors would be able to leave the house for walks would be “announced soon,” and went on to call for the public “to allow us to finish the details” of the plan, including “maximum time, distance and safety. This is going for a walk, and not going out to shop, which they will also be able to do,” he clarified.
Asked about what it means to take walks, Illa answered that “taking walks is taking walks” and said that in the coming days details about the distances and the maximum times will be issued, based on the recommendations of the experts.
Even the government second vice president of Social Rights and leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, celebrated ‘the government change of heart’ that children under the age of 14 will finally be allowed to walk outdoors.
“Girls and boys should be able to go outside to take in the fresh air with short, controlled walks. It is common sense. This measure strikes a balance between protection from the pandemic and the emotional well-being of children and girls,” he said in a message on social networks.