March 23, 2020 / 2:43 PM / 6 days ago

Coronavirus crisis slows down Spain's economy 'significantly'

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Affairs Minister Nadia Calvino arrives to attend the first cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish economic activity slowed down “significantly” in the week after the government took measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Monday.

The euro-zone’s fourth largest economy has been under lockdown since March 14th, with all but essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies closed. A number of car plants have also halted production.

“Economic activity, which was dynamic until February, slowed down significantly last week, but there is a relative normality in the food, electricity, gas, water and telecoms industries,” Calvino told a news conference on Monday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned last week that the economy was likely to shrink in 2020 because of the effect of the epidemic.

As part of a plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the Spanish government has announced a 200 billion euro package to support and help companies. Calvino said the government will on Tuesday release details of credit lines and guarantees available to companies hit by cash flow disruptions.

She said the credit lines would be available to companies which had already reported financial difficulties.

Banks have been waiting for details before starting to grant loans to companies which have already started to temporarily lay off thousands of employees.

Reporting by Jesus Aguado, Emma Pinedo, Writing by Inti Landauro, editing by Isla Binnie, Ingrid Melander, Kirsten Donovan

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