New measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in Spain's "significant transmission areas" take effect today, with more than 1.5 million students affected in Madrid alone.
All schools, nurseries, universities will remain closed for 15 days in the regions of Madrid (where 3,650 institutions will close) and La Rioja, and the Basque cities of Vitoria and Labastida. Four schools in the region of Asturias will close, too.
The Spanish government asked companies to allow employees to work from home where possible and be flexible with hours. It said it will help families financially so they can cover the cost of childcare while these measures are in place.
Patricia Avila, finance director for a logistics company in Madrid and a mother of one, told CNN: “I am lucky, my company allows me to work remotely from home. But I am sure this will last more than 15 days, probably until after Easter at least. I will have to rely on my family and will have to work remotely to deal with this situation, but I can’t be as efficient, there are meetings you have to do in person, it is going to be difficult even for me.”
Regarding the government’s promise of financial aid for families, she said: “I don’t trust them, they won’t be able to help everyone, we don’t even know how long this will last.
“And again, I am lucky, my colleague is having to use her holidays to look after her children while the schools are closed, another colleague has asked for unpaid leave.”
Avila said she was heading to the grocery store after finding the shelves empty the day before.
The Health Ministry’s emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, said 2,002 people had tested positive for coronavirus and 47 had died, with half of the cases appearing in Madrid.
He said some hospitals in Madrid were "saturated" and "under stress," but the authorities were solving the uncertainty around a lack of medication.