On Friday night, say spokespeople for the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), they were contacted by the Pedro Sánchez government to ask them to lend their support to the Spanish executive in its opposition to calls for total lockdown of Spain due to the coronavirus. Those who spoke to the Basques were staunch in their views, assuring them that "the measure would not be applied." As is well known, on Saturday night, Pedro Sánchez announced a total lockdown of the population, giving in to the demands for a measure which, if it had been applied earlier, would probably have lessened the current tragedy. But that is another story.
The important thing here is not that the Spanish prime minister was playing games with the PNV - nor that the latter, angered, have threatened to veto his government budget, which is still a while away - since the list of those who have been damaged by all this is impossibly long. But it does reveal a clear improvisation in an area so critical as the best approach to reducing coronavirus contagion. And not because the scientists disagree, as we are led to believe in the current information blackout on the issue, but because people are playing politics. Some may think that talking of a vacuum of information is an exaggeration but having more news and more spokespeople doing press conferences doesn't mean we know more. One thing is communication and another is information.
I am one of the thousands who spent all Sunday awaiting the publication in Spain's official state gazette of the decree specifying the list of essential services and measures in which people can continue working from this Monday at zero hours - that is, already at midnight on Sunday - once the total lockdown is approved. Announced by the Spanish PM on Saturday afternoon and approved by the cabinet on Sunday morning, the reasonable course of action would have been immediate publication so that the millions of workers and their companies, large, small and medium-sized, as well as self-employed workers of all kinds, would know what the rules were that they are expected to follow.
The utter frivolity with which all of this is being conducted is clearly portrayed by the fact that, as of 10pm this Sunday, nothing has been published, and the chaos on Monday may be significant. It is no surprise to me that Northern European countries despair every time they hear Pedro Sánchez calling for greater cooperation in the coming economic crisis. This is a government that is incapable of even publishing a decree in its official gazette!