After six weeks stuck at home, Spain's children were allowed out Sunday to run, play or go for a walk as the government eased one of the world's toughest coronavirus lockdowns.

‘We’re going out!’: Spanish kids reclaim streets after weeks indoors

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by Thomas PERROTEAU

After six weeks stuck at home, Spain’s children were allowed out Sunday to run, play or go for a walk as the government eased one of the world’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns.

Spain is among the hardest hit countries, with a death toll running at more than 23,000, putting it behind only the United States and Italy despite stringent restrictions imposed from March 14.

But unlike other countries, Spain’s children were kept indoors, with only adults allowed to leave the house to buy food, medicine, briefly walk the dog or seek urgent medical care.

On Sunday, Spanish children took to the streets of Madrid to enjoy their newfound freedom.

Some rollerbladed while others rode bikes or pushed toy prams around, many wearing small masks to cover their faces.

“It has been very good for me to get out,” said six-year-old Ricardo after a runaround in Madrid with his younger sister.

“We played hide and seek, we raced. We found a ladybug that was lost and we put it in among the ants.”

Some parents took precautions, dressing their kids with protective gear before going out.

“They’re all properly equipped with masks and gloves,” said Miguel Lopez, father of two children aged six and three, and who lives in an apartment in northwest Madrid.

“It’s like a day out for them, it’s the most interesting thing for them in a month,” Lopez told AFP.

– ‘Super excited’ –
Alvaro Paredes, seven, and his brother Javier, four, were just getting ready for their big adventure.

“We are going to go out in an hour’s time, going about a kilometre (0.6 miles) on scooter or bicycle to do a tour around our neighbourhood,” their mother Inmaculada Paredes said.

“They are super excited, very, very impatient. They were up at 6:30 am, saying ‘We’re going out, We’re going out!’,” she said.

From Sunday a maximum of three children under 14 years will be able to go out once a day, for one hour between 9:00 am (0700 GMT) and 9:00 pm, accompanied by one parent — and no further than one kilometre from their home.

Health Minister Salvador Illa on Friday said it would be “a first step towards easing” the lockdown after earlier insisting that people be very prudent “because the health of the nation is at stake”.

The restriction on children had come under increasing criticism in Spain, with specialists warning of the danger it posed for their health and mental wellbeing.

Last week one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers Pablo Iglesias apologised for keeping them at home for six weeks, acknowledging it was “not at all easy” for them and saying thank you.

– ‘Common sense’ –
The government’s initial plan to allow children to accompany adults only on their rare authorised trips, for example to supermarkets, satisfied no one and prompted a hasty retreat.

“All our common sense tells us that it is safe for the children,” said mother Paredes.

“If I can go to a supermarket, which is an enclosed space, then going for a walk (in the open) has got to be safer.”

For both her and Miguel Lopez, this easing of the rules would have been welcome earlier but they understand the caution of the authorities, desperate to avoid any resurgence of the disease.

“Many people have been really irresponsible,” Lopez said.

“Those same people who went off to their country houses despite all the warnings, they would have flooded onto the beaches and into the parks if the children had been allowed out earlier.”

“I think they could have done this sooner perhaps but it is true that people in Spain, in Madrid, have not been very good about it,” said Paredes.

The decision was made as Spain appeared to have got past the peak of the pandemic, reporting Sunday a daily death toll of 288, the lowest number since March 20.

All Spaniards will be allowed out for exercise and to take walks from next weekend, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Saturday.

The government will on Tuesday unveil its broader lockdown exit plan that will likely be put into action in the second half of May, he added.

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POLITIKO / Latest News

Holiday na nagka-pasok pa! Netizens fume as Duterte declares Nov 2, Dec 24, Dec 31 2021 as working days

Netizens expressed dismay with President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lessen the number of non-working days in 2021 in a bid to spur economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte on Friday (February 26) signed Proclamation No. 1107, which categorized three days that had been declared special holidays as special working days. These are Nov. 2 (All Souls’ Day), Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), and Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve).

“For the country to recover from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” Duterte’s proclamation read.

Writer @JerryGracio tweeted: “Hindi na special non-working holiday ang All Souls Day. Wala kasing kaluluwa si Duterte.”

Journalist @prinzmagtulis said: “Duterte government’s strategy to revive the economy: Ease monetary policy || Reject additional fiscal stimulus || Lessen holidays.”

Twitter user @Punongbayan_ asked: “Payag ka rito pero si Duterte, 365 days ang non-working holidays?”

Netizen @nicoquejano tweeted: “Okay. Sa mga nagsasabi na pumapasok naman talaga sila pag December 24 at December 31. Mga teh, Duterte just took away the holiday premium you get for working on a holiday! Suck on that, mga DDS. Puñeta.”

Twitter user @Nicocoleeta said: “Sana di na magkaroon ng masarap na ulam ever si Duterte at pamilya nya. pwede naman kasi tanggalin yung Nov. 30, Day of Valor, or Chinese New Year as holidays eh, pero nope yung mga holidays na in a way ‘need’ para macelebrate yung occassion with families.”

Markahan na kalendaryo! Here are the important dates for May 2022 elections

The election fever is expected to rise in the coming months as the May 2022 polls near.

While a number of politikos are still coy about their political plans, they are for sure laying down the groundwork for next year to meet the key dates set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Resolution No. 10695 issued by the Comelec on February 10, 2021 detailed the calendar of activities in the run-up to the 2022 elections.

Among the important poll-related dates and activities listed in the resolution are:

May 31, 2021: Last day for filing of petitions for registration of coalition of political parties

October 1, 2021 to October 8, 2021: Period for filing certificates of candidacy and certificates of nomination for all elective positions

November 15, 2021: Last day for the substitute of an official candidate of a political party or coalition who withdrew, died, or was disqualified by final judgment to file certificate of candidacy in order to reflect the name of the substitute on the official ballot.

February 8, 2022 to May 7, 2022: Campaign period for candidates for president, vice president, senator and party-list groups.

March 25, 2022 to May 7, 2022: Campaign period for candidates for members of the House of Representatives and other local positions.

DOJ assures review of gov’t drug-related ops will continue

The government will continue to review anti-illegal drugs operations where deaths have occurred, Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Adrian Sugay assured on Friday (Feb. 26).

“What we have thus far is an initial report,” Sugay pointed out.

“And we intend to continue the review of cases involving anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred,” he assured.

“We intend to come out with further findings and recommendations,” he added.

Last Wednesday (Feb. 24) Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra reported there were irregularities in the police drug operations during the review conducted by the DOJ-led inter-agency panel.

“Any and all possible administrative/criminal liability against those involved in these anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred may be pursued depending on any further findings/recommendations,” Sugay also assured.

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