The Spanish government approved Tuesday a decree to protect fruit and vegetable harvesting during the coronavirus crisis to avoid economic losses and disruption to the supply chain as food consumption jumped by over 17 percent under lockdown.
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Agriculture Minister Luis Planas aid the unemployed, people in receipt of farming subsidies, migrants with permission to work and young migrants between 18-21 without paperwork would be able to take up jobs in the countryside from the second half of March until the end of September.
He said there was a need for between 75,000 to 80,000 workers to carry out tasks such as fruit and vegetable picking and processing.
The agriculture minister told the press conference the population had boosted its consumption of food by 17.6 percent under lockdown compared to the same week last year, especially in meat and fresh vegetables.
The workers would still be subject to the restrictions of movement currently in place in Spain and would have to take up work in their province or the adjoining one.
The spokesperson for the Socialist Party-led coalition Maria Jesus Montero doubled down on calls for a national pact to rebuild the country once the COVID-19 health crisis has passed.
She said that although the pact would first deal with the economic damage from the health crisis, the government hoped the new pact would expand to a variety of societal sectors.
“We have a need for talent and competition from all political, economic and social sectors to decide how we will continue to build the country we love,” she said.
An accumulation of data over the weekend saw Spain’s daily coronavirus fatalities jump on Tuesday after four days of decline although health authorities said there was an overall downward trend in figures.
The Spanish health ministry registered 743 deaths in the last 24 hours, more than the 637 reported between Sunday and Monday, which brings the total number of fatalities to 13,798 since the outbreak began.
Around 7,069 people were in ICU across Spain, a jump of 138 overnight, which reflects a doubling of the previous day’s number.
At least 100 people had been arrested for breaching the lockdown rules in the last 24 hours, authorities said. Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez extended the national lockdown until at least 26 April.