Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

What else are you noticing?

Almost everybody in my neighborhood is trying hard to respect the one-meter distance recommended by the authorities, lining up in silence at cash registers. But at my local fruit stand on Wednesday, a woman forcefully challenged a man who had grasped an apple without wearing one of the gloves provided by the supermarket.

“You dirty, selfish guy!” she told him. He looked startled but didn’t answer. It seemed to me that, in the time of coronavirus, citizens have turned into much more efficient vigilantes than store security cameras.

You’ve written that Spain’s fractured politics have complicated the government’s response to the virus. Do you expect to see less arguing, and more unity, as the crisis escalates?

Last weekend, when Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a state of emergency, he got some scathing criticism from opposition parties for having responded too late. The crisis has also fueled territorial tensions, particularly since health care is one of the policy areas that is managed by regional administrations rather than the central government. Both Catalan and Basque politicians [two regions where there have been strong independence movements] have been warning Mr. Sánchez against reducing their powers.

But as the coronavirus numbers for Spain have kept climbing, politicians have mostly set aside their differences. Before the crisis, Mr. Sánchez was facing an uphill struggle to get approval for his next budget. Instead, he got broad support for a €200 billion relief package.

The question is whether this economic aid will be disbursed efficiently and fast enough. And if the lockdown doesn’t start slowing the coronavirus in Spain soon, it could put Mr. Sánchez under renewed political pressure.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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