On April 4th, the President of the Spanish Government announced his intention to request the Congress of Deputies to agree to the extension of the State of Alarm for at least 15 days more. Therefore the State of Alarm, enacted on March 14th, will be maintained until midnight of April 25th.
His petition seems to have the support of the leaders of the rest of the political forces in the State; nevertheless, the extension will not be made official until it is approved by the Congress of Deputies at the forthcoming plenary session scheduled for April 9th.
However, and as the President Pedro Sánchez has already announced, the extension of the State of Alarm does not necessarily imply the extension of the suspension of non-essential activities, a suspension tackled in our publication of April 2 (RDL 10/2020 of March 29th – Suspension of Non-essential Activities) that, since these restrictive economic measures were made public, has received a lot of criticism and pressure to analyse its possible moderation or suppression. Both on part of the industries that asked to maintain their essential activities in order to prevent the total economy freeze, and the political forces in the country. Therefore, and depending on the decisions made by the Government, these non-essential activities might be reactivated from April 9th.
As we have seen, during the three weeks of the State of Alarm that we have already undergone in Spain, this situation is having an enormous impact on all social and economic sectors in Spain and, in particular, the sectors of industry, commerce and trade, and a part of the transportation sector have been severely hit by this situation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food published Order APA/315/2020 of April 1st in the BOE (Official State Gazette). This Order establishes new criteria for the management of fishing quotas assigned to the Kingdom of Spain in order to optimize their use and modifies certain Ministerial Orders that regulate these concepts since 2014.
This Order is mainly applicable to the stocks subject to the total allowable catches and quotas in the peninsula waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
These are the main measures that have been taken:
- Flexibilization of the transmissions of fishing possibilities (quotas) for the vessels with individual distribution, thus allowing a better adaptation to the fisheries within the previously established distribution, that is to say, that the vessels themselves through the transmissions regulate the distribution of quotas. Those operating in the Bay of Biscay and the Northwest, Gulf of Cadiz and those trawling in Portuguese waters.
- Establishment of a mechanism for the annual optimisation of the boilermakers’ quotas. As of October 1st, vessels that have already exhausted their quotas will be able to continue fishing and using the quotas that will be left over for other vessels, thus guaranteeing the full use of the quotas allocated.
- Establishment of procedures for the management of quotas allocated to Spain but which, until now, have mostly not been established.
- Establishment of criteria for the annual allocation of quotas not yet allocated in Spain, (blue whiting or horse mackerel in EU waters and swordfish in the North Atlantic).
- Establishment of uniform procedures for the cessation of activity and the closure of fisheries in cases where quotas have been exhausted.
- Establishment of management measures for recreational fisheries for sea bream in the Cantabrian Sea.
The Order APA/315/2020, of April 1st, reinforces Spain’s commitment to sustainable and responsible fisheries management and shows progress in the regulation regarding the fishing quotas assigned to Spain.
Many measures are being taken with regard to land transport as it is an essential resource to secure the local supply chain, above all on local and national level.
Administrations are beginning to ensure the protection of truck carriers by distributing personal protective equipment by enabling filling stations and providing places for weekly rest of at least 24 hours.
Likewise, the National Road Transport Committee communicated to the Ministry of Transport its commitment to maintain transport and guarantee the supply of medicines in hospitals during the Easter weeks.
For its part, rail transport is also adapting to this situation and some initiatives are already beginning to be made public, such as adapting trains of the Operator Renfe for the transport of patients affected by COVID-19 between different autonomous communities.
The Spanish airports are adapting to the COVID-19, among other forms, by enabling their esplanades to offer parking to the planes that, due to the evident reduction of flights, are not operating and therefore have to remain on the ground.
Since the health emergency does not only affect Spain but it is a global phenomenon, many flights and many regular lines operated by air operators will be suspended for an undefined period of time.
With regard to maritime transport, it is important to highlight the change of direction that the maritime industry is taking in order to face the pandemic.
Many shipping companies are temporarily suspending some of their usual shipping lines, as well as adapting their rotations to the progressive increase in Asian imports to the demanding European continent. This increase is materialized in the fact that rates from the Mediterranean to the Far East have increased by 42.4% and in the oil price crash.
Although there are shipping companies that have decided to suspend temporary their services with stopovers in Spanish ports, there are still sufficient services to guarantee the supply chain.
For its part, the Spanish ports have been taking measures to mitigate the effects that might arise from abandonment of goods and containers in the ports (in many cases forced). Let us take as an example the Port of Barcelona that has implemented the so called “flat rate” regarding the cost resulting from storage of the containers in the ports with the aim to mitigate the economic impact that COVID-19 is producing in the importing companies.
This measure adopted by the Port of Barcelona shall be applicable to the import containers located in the container terminals of the enclave between March 31st and April 13th (for the time being). According the experts’ estimation, the cost of storage of the containers will be reduced by 65 % as a result of these measures.
As we can observe, all sectors are renewing and readapting themselves in this uncertain and unknown situation we are just undergoing in order to guarantee the supply chain of products and materials, securing so that basic needs of the citizens are met and that the industries, to the maximum possible extent, continue operating.