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Spain makes it illegal to work outdoors during heatwaves

Government minister says climate change ‘is real’ as the country announces new spending measures to help with severe drought conditions.

Spain’s government has banned outdoor work in heatwave conditions as the country labours through an exceptionally warm spring following last year’s record summer.

“Climate change has come into people’s lives. It is real. We are going to prohibit the undertaking of professional activities when the [State Meteorological Agency] says that we are on a red or orange alert,” said Yolanda Díaz, the minister of labour and social economy.

Heat alerts are triggered when temperatures reach the high 30s or above 40C, depending on the region.

“Workers have died due to heat strokes. Now we are undertaking legislative changes so people are not forced to work in those conditions,” Ms Díaz added.

‘It’s immoral to have people working’

Last summer a 60-year-old Madrid streetsweeper collapsed while working and later died on the day the Spanish capital experienced a record-equalling temperature of 40.7C.

The death of José Antonio González struck a chord after it emerged that he had swapped shifts with a colleague to work at the hottest time of day as he was worried that his short-term contract would not be renewed.

Miguel González said that his father had been aware that his health might not be up to working in the streets in such conditions, but the family’s economic situation had left him with no choice.

“It’s immoral to have people working in the street at over 40 degrees. He was aware this could happen and had been Googling the symptoms of heat stroke,” he said.


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