MADRID: Spain’s leftist government on Tuesday banned rental evictions and barred utilities from cutting off power and water over unpaid bills to people cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Housing is the trench from where people will resist the virus,” said Social Affairs Minister Pablo Iglesias, whose hard-left Podemos governs in coalition with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists.
“For tenants, evictions will be suspended starting today and up to six months after the end of the state of emergency. Nobody can be evicted from their home.”
Spain, which has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll after Italy, declared a state of emergency over the pandemic on March 14, barring people from leaving home for all but essential reasons.
The government tightened the lockdown over the weekend, banning all non-essential work for two weeks.
The cabinet approved the latest measures after a meeting on Tuesday, with Iglesias adding that the government would also provide credit to tenants to help them pay their rent.
The government had already issued a moratorium on mortgage payments to ensure people who cannot pay are not thrown out of their homes.
The issue of evictions is sensitive in Spain, which saw a string of suicides of people facing eviction during the sharp economic downturn that followed the 2008 global financial crisis.
The government also announced it would pay a monthly stipend to laid-off temporary workers who do not qualify for jobless benefits, as well as aid to home cleaners who lose their jobs and have reduced work hours due to the pandemic.
Spain registered 849 deaths related to Covid-19 in 24 hours on Tuesday, another one-day record, hiking the overall death toll to 8,189, although health chiefs said the rate of new infections was continuing its downward trend.
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