Grants For New Car-Buying

An ambitious government plan to boost Spain’s car industry will involve a cash injection of €3.75 billion to allow individuals and companies to upgrade their vehicles where these are over a given age. Additional funds will be granted for those who buy electrically-powered, rather than conventional petrol or diesel, cars and extra financial help will be provided for households on the lowest incomes.

Part of the plan, as well as giving the motor industry in Spain a hefty dose of extra security at a time when it has been hit hard by the pandemic, is to work towards the country’s becoming ‘zero emissions’ by the year 2050.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says “Urgent environmental transition towards sustainable and connected mobility will also help the industry adapt itself and become more competitive. This is consistent with our international commitments concerning fighting, adapting to and mitigating climate change. We’re aiming to make it easier to rejuvenate the cars on our roads so that they are more energy-efficient and more in line with our energy transition objectives that we have set ourselves.”

As well as grants for buying new cars, the funding set aside will help towards a ‘tax reform’ to increase competitiveness, towards supporting training and education in the industry and ‘research.

Investing heavily in the motor industry is crucial to Spain’s economy, since it makes up around 10% of the GDP, a sizeable portion of the country’s exports and provides jobs directly and indirectly to around two million people. The aim is for Spain to have better, more sustainable vehicles, cleaner towns and cities, quality employment and a much more competitive motor industry.

Back To School ‘New Normality’.

The start of the 2020-2021 academic year will be different from ever before, but some of the consequences of Covid-19 precautions will be positive progress.

Class sizes are expected to shrink – a maximum of 15 to 20 children will be in any one group, although the ‘recommended maximum’ will be 15.

This allows for social distancing and as a bonus, will mean pupils get more individual attention and supervision.

Masks will be compulsory except for infants and priority will be given to activities in the open air, both educational and leisure-related. It may mean more sports or nature field trips, but could also mean that on a warm, sunny day, kids get to take their usual lessons outside.

Regional governments are mainly responsible for deciding matters relating to education, subject to certain limits, and online ‘meetings’ have been held between these and the national government in order to agree procedures.

Every school in the country needs to have a contingency plan in place ready to be activated from September if necessary and at least one person will be required to be in charge of monitoring and managing suspected Coronavirus cases, with a team on hand to ensure full information is supplied at all times and recommended procedures are followed.

“Guaranteeing the return to class for all pupils is our priority – the school year being interrupted was a huge blow, a wound that has affected generations of young people,” Prime Minister Sánchez says. He says he is aware of how tough it will be to adapt schools to the new situation, but stresses that it is ‘essential’ to work on this for the benefit of everyone, adults and children, since kids deserve to go back with full guarantees of a proper education from September.

It is possible that children will attend class in ‘shifts’, depending upon their age, with some – but hopefully, not all – of their schooling being by distance learning. The forced shutdown in face-to-face education has thrust two major issues into the spotlight: The ‘digital gap’ and family work-homelife balance. These issues are something that will seriously need to be focused on in the Parliamentary Evaluation Commission, which will be set up immediately once the State of Alarm is declared over.

€16 billion will be set aside for each of Spain’s self-governing regions and a total of €2bn will go on education.

A general guide to ‘organising’ pupils from September has been drawn up, and includes greater freedom for infants and early primary school classes – children aged three to six inclusive – who will not be expected to maintain social distancing and not have to wear masks. From first year of primary – aged six – upwards, masks will be compulsory if pupils are unable to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres.

Between the last two years of primary school and the final year of sixth form inclusive, (age 10 to 18), desks should be set at least 1.5 metres apart, masks obligatory where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, but not necessary when sitting in separate booths, such as during exams.

Pupils of every age will be encouraged as far as possible to use disposable tissues and avoid touching their nose, eyes and mouth, whilst teachers and other authorities are expected to use outside spaces as much as possible, to ensure all areas are cleaned and disinfected daily (three times a day in toilets) and to keep classrooms ventilated where possible.

Endangered White Lion Born In Spain

The first-ever white lion outside the wild has been born in Spain, in the MundoPark nature reserve in Guillena (Sevilla). The public can now visit him in person now the park has reopened.

The cub is the son of Alba and Can, two white lions brought over from Thailand four years ago. The ‘distancing’ is in keeping with the environment in which animals at MundoPark live which are designed to be as similar as possible to their natural habitats.

MundoPark announced an orix cimitarra had also been born, a type of antelope which is now extinct in the wild and only ever found nowadays in captivity.

Nile Crocodile In Valladolid River?

There has been a reported sighting of a Nile crocodile, where two rivers meet in centre-northern Spain. Footprints, which could be those of a giant reptile, have led to a mass police search, but zoologists are keen to calm.

Local Police in Simancas, in the province of Valladolid (Castilla y León) received several calls saying they had seen a 1.5-metre (4’11”) crocodile of the type found in the river Nile in Egypt and Sudan, in the confluence of the Pisuerga and Duero rivers. A police officer also thought he had seen it in the water.

Several areas on the Pesquerela tow-path were cordoned off as the Guardia Civil’s environmental wing, SEPRONA, searched for the croc.

They say if, indeed, it exists, it is likely to have been abandoned by its owner; almost certainly an owner who should not have had it in the first place, since it is one of a long list of exotic creatures which cannot be legally kept by private individuals outside the countries of their natural habitats.

Nile crocodiles are exceptionally dangerous creatures, but they are also nervous and will tend to flee if they see a human, rather than attack.

Egyptians living on the Nile banks, especially Nubian families, keep baby ones as pets, then release them into the river again when they are too big, because adult ones are not compatible with humans in confined spaces.

Experts said a croc would be unable to survive in the low water temperature of the Pisuerga, although the China alligator and the Mississippi alligator are creatures which could cope with the cold river climate in semi-hibernation.