Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Spain lifts state of emergency amid legal uncertainty

Thousands celebrate end of more than 6 months of restrictions, others remain concerned

Alyssa McMurtry   | 09.05.2021
Spain lifts state of emergency amid legal uncertainty


Spain’s state of emergency was lifted on Sunday, putting an end to nightly curfews for the vast majority of Spaniards and allowing travel across the country for the first time in more than six months.

Cities across the country saw large celebrations to usher in the new era.

Revelers had to go home at 11 p.m. (in most parts of Spain) to comply with Saturday’s curfew. Then, at midnight, when the curfew disappeared, they flowed back out onto the streets in a euphoric mood.

Despite the newfound freedom, COVID-19 still lurks. Contagion is on the decline, but on Friday the Health Ministry reported 8,186 new infections.

Without the state of emergency in place to fight the pandemic, the country is in something of a legal limbo when it comes to restrictions.

For instance, in Valencia and the Balearic Islands, courts have approved the government requests to maintain nightly curfews.

In the Basque Country, which is currently suffering from one of Europe’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, a local court blocked the government’s attempt to maintain a curfew and travel restrictions.

The Spanish government recently passed a law that would fast-track these contentious issues to the Supreme Court, which will have the final say.

But Supreme Court has criticized that move. In a report, the highest court said it is still lacking legal tools to uphold anti-COVID restrictions that restrict basic freedoms and questioned the constitutionality of making the courts participants in “adopting administrative measures.”

Last summer, Spain was also one of the first European countries to dive into the new normal. It resulted in the country being hit by a second wave of infections before most others.

This time, authorities hope that vaccines will prevent another major surge in sickness and death.

So far, 12.6% of the Spanish population has been fully immunized and 28% has received at least one dose.

A staggering 83.5% of those older than 60 have also received at least one jab, with 38% of the most vulnerable group now fully immunized.

On May 7, Spain reported 66 new COVID-19 deaths – the lowest number since last summer.

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