A gas station in Huesca.
A gas station in Huesca.Kiko Huesca / EFE

Gas station associations have asked the government to establish minimum services for the sector in the face of the colossal drop in demand caused by the containment measures. Service stations cannot shut down as they are considered an essential service and form part of the activities that must remain open under the decree published last Sunday, which further tightens restrictions on the movement of people to stop expansion of the coronavirus.

In a joint statement published this Wednesday, employers Ceees and Aevecar have once again demanded that the government establish minimum services for the sector, a request that had already been advanced on March 30. “We have had no response,” says Víctor García Nebreda, secretary general of Aevecar. “We know that we are a basic necessity service, we are logically providing it and we are not considering stopping it, but we believe that 100% of the open facilities are not necessary, a situation that puts professionals and companies at risk.”

In Spain there are some 12,000 gas stations that employ more than 50,000 people. García Nebreda explains that the two associations made themselves available to the ministry to prepare a list of road service stations - “the only ones that now have some movement”, by the carriers - so that it could establish the minimum services that it considered appropriate, giving the possibility of continuing to operate to those who wanted.

The reasons are as much sanitary, to avoid the contagion, as economic, before the collapse of the income. “Perhaps a company with 100 or 5,000 workers can organize well to do an ERTE, but in this sector there are also family activities with three workers who cannot do it.”

According to data provided by the same Government, the two associations calculate that the drop in road demand for all fuels is at least 80%, and in urban areas 90%. The fall has been enlarged with the latest confinement measures, but with the declaration of the state of alarm, it had dropped by around 70%. “There are service stations that make 30 euros a day, but cannot close,” regrets García Nebreda. “It doesn't make sense to take out 50,000 workers every day when they tell us to stay home, it is as if Renfe (who does have minimum services fixed) was told to take out all his trains and staff every day just in case someone wants go up. Has no sense”.

According to data from the Hydrocarbon Logistics Company (CLH), the distribution of gasoline fell 83% last week, while that of diesel A fell 61% compared to the same week last year.

Jorge de Benito, president of Ceees, has made the same statement this morning in an interview on TVE. “We are demanding these minimum services from the government because the situation is economically unsustainable,” he said. “With minimum services of 20%, we would be covering that demand, which in many cases is 5% of what was previously there.”

Taxi drivers call for urgent measures

Taxi drivers are also on the limit. The Spanish Taxi Federation (Fedetaxi) has sent to the Ministries of Transport and Social Security a list with a series of requests to deal with the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. The association recalled in a statement that the state of alarm, before, and the tightening of confinement, afterwards, have drastically reduced the activity and turnover of professionals in the sector, which is currently between 10% and 15% of normal figures. In addition, he insisted on the great risk to which taxi drivers are exposed in the exercise of their activity.

For this reason, it has asked that the group be considered “of special attention in the field of sanitary protection”, requesting personal protective equipment and protective material. In addition, it has proposed a battery of aid to deal with the crisis. Among them, that the new extraordinary benefit for cessation of activity be recognized “universally for all taxi drivers (self-employed)” and that a reduction of 50% be applied to the VAT and personal income tax of the regime by modules, at least , from the first quarter of 2020.

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