TheCanary.TV LIVE: Press Conference – Canary Islands Government meeting [Spanish with English summary below]
The exponential growth of CIVD-19 cases on the Canary Islands over the last week, with record numbers of infections registered this Thursday, leads to the capital islands, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, having to increase their Alert Levels and associated restrictive measures to contain the advance of the coronavirus.
This Thursday the Governing Council of the Canary Islands, meeting in Tenerife, have studied the data and decided on new limitations that are being announced at a 5pm press conference. The epidemiological data seem to indicate that Gran Canaria will rise to Level 3 and Tenerife to Level 4.
Present at the conference [left to right] Blas Trujillo, Health Minister, Roman Rodriguez, Vice President, Julio Perez, Government Spokesman, and Yaiza Castilla, Minister for Tourism
The spokesman for the Government of the Canary Islands, Julio Pérez, began the appearance after the meeting, alluding to the “worrying” level of the pandemic and the pressure on the healthcare system.
The Vice President of the Government, Román Rodríguez, explained a new aid decree for the tourism sector.
Rodríguez reports that the Executive is beginning the process of processing the 2022 Budget Law, with the idea of articulating the regulations as of August to present it in Parliament in October.
“The budget will be based on the contents of the Reactiva Plan and conditioned on the funds [attracted] from financial sources in Europe,” explained the vice president who announced that for the first time budget objectives and evaluation of measures are being added.
Rodríguez admitted that there is “uncertainty” in economic matters, related to data on fiscal rules or public spending. Despite this, the Government is committed to starting the process with a vision of the evolution of the economic crisis according to the higher forecasts. “We expect 8% -9% growth,” said the vice president.
The Government has approved a decree of direct aid for €1.3 billion to productive sectors of the Archipelago, which was announced in March.
“The first tranche of payments have distributed around €87 million to SMEs“, said Rodríguez, adding a new line of aid for the tourism sector.
It is about financing the IBI (property tax) of tourist facilities during the present, 2021, explained the vice president of the Canarian Executive.
“We have managed in record time the call for aid to get 85 million euros,” said Castilla, who advanced that it is about injecting money into the economy of the Islands to boost it.
This new line, of €63.4 million, is intended for the IBI of tourist establishments with specific criteria, such as being registered before March 15, 2020. They must prove losses of at least 30% and may cover 100% of their IBI liability.
The Minister hopes that in September the application procedure to execute the payment order in the autumn can be moved forward.
Rodríguez pointed out that there is no autonomous community that has facilitated this level of aid “in record time.” “It is up to the doomsayers to rectify,” said the vice president of the Canary Islands Government.
Tenerife rises to Level 4. Gran Canaria and La Palma go to Level 3 and Lanzarote rises to Level 2, said Trujillo in summary, explaining that the Delta variant predominates.
On the Canary Islands all risk indicators have increased, including the Accumulated Incidence (AI), but the Minister emphasised that hospital pressure has been increasing “little by little”.
Trujillo pointed out that “being vaccinated does not mean not infecting” others and referred to outbreaks that began with a vaccinated patient. “It is absolute false [to think of vaccines as] protection [from infecting others] that must be taken into account in our behaviour,” insisted the Health Minister.
The profile of patients who are in ICU is currently people between 40 and 50 years old and “unfortunately we are at the forefront in certain pathologies, such as asthma, which are very vulnerable elements and more in relation to this new strain that is more contagious than the rest.”
The Minister advocated analysing the situation and the risk based on new indicators, such as pressure on healthcare in both primary and hospital care “not only related to Covid-19 patients, because this situation is already seriously harming other pathologies“.
“This situation forces us to readjust the contingency plans, because we continue to have a personnel problem,” admitted the Minister for Health, who said that he regrets “that we have had to readjust all the schedules for diagnostic tests and specialists.”
Trujillo warned that Tenerife, despite rising to Level 4, will begin to apply the use of the Covid certificate, which will begin to be required in certain situations.
The new measures will begin to implemented from Monday.
Regarding the Covid certificate: restoration activity (bars and restaurants) will continue with an interior capacity of 50% but all people over 18 years of age who access will need to carry the document.
Trujillo reported that commercial restrictions on hours may be applied, in such a way that they can open until 00:00 hours.
In relation to sports activity, at Level 4 a 33% capacity will be allowed indoors, but all with the Covid certificate. The same happens with cultural activities, with a capacity of 55%.
“They are not just measures for Tenerife, but for Level 4 in the event that between another of the Islands,” the Minister pointed out before expressing his concern about the evolution of the pandemic in recent weeks.
The Minister recalled that contingency plans have been activated in the main hospitals in anticipation of an increase in cases and hospital pressure.
“It is a more delicate moment than at the beginning of the pandemic,” insisted Blas Trujillo, encouraging the population to get vaccinated.
Regarding vaccination, the Minister admited “disappointment” at the beginning of the process, but recalled that the objective is to vaccinate 70% of the target population before the end of the summer. “We are at 55%,” he reports.
Throughout August, the population over 12 years of age will be vaccinated to expand coverage, depending on the distribution of doses.
“This is not over,” says the Minister of Health, who understands that “an effort of solidarity as a society is necessary.”
The Government spokesperson, Julio Perez, points out that around 700,000 Covid certificates have been downloaded in the Canary Islands Community.
Pérez detailed other agreements of the Governing Council before giving way to Question Time.
The Health Minister recognised that there is a great “discussion” around legal regulation to establish certain measures to contain the pandemic and recognises that “limiting night mobility is a tool that we lack.“
Trujillo insisted on the importance of curfews to avoid social gatherings, not only “bottellones” but also at people’s homes.
He clarified that Tenerife, although rising to Level 4 from today, will continue to operate with the measures of Level 3 until next Monday.
In cultural activities, capacity will be 55% but all carrying a Covid certificate. Sports venues, may be kept open with limited capacity and all with the certificate.
Trujillo summarises that the new pandemic situation is characterised by the dominant strain transmitting much more, which increases the spread of the disease “in a remarkable way.”
There are sectors with greater mobility and greater relational capacity that “are a breeding ground for the virus”, indicated the Minister to explain the increase in cases.
“The lethality has dropped, with this strain the world would have had an even worse problem than what it had at the beginning of the pandemic,” says the Minister.
Admissions to the ICU have been increasing, especially in Tenerife, although the health officer sees the same trend in Gran Canaria.
The behaviour of the population with pathologies other than Covid produces a greater demand for healthcare services, unlike at other times of the pandemic “in which it was proposed not to concern certain services.”
“There are more people demanding assistance which affects the system,” added the Minister of Health.
The Government clarified that children’s camps will remain at Level 4 and that the request for the Covid certificate will be for people over 18 years of age.
Julio Pérez explained that on Friday, the Prosecutor’s Office must respond to the Canary Islands’ request to the Supreme Court regarding the curfews. Thereafter, the judges have another five days to decide.
The Canary Islands have asked that any excess supply of the Moderna vaccine be distributed among other regions most affected by the previous difficulties in distribution.
“Either we finish vaccinating the whole world or we will have a serious problem. We need the rest of the planet to pick up pace because we cannot allow millions of people to have the virus circulating,” concluded the Minister of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands.