Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Spain to declare state of emergency, impose curfews

Country to see nightly curfews, a measure that could last until May

Alyssa McMurtry   | 25.10.2020
Spain to declare state of emergency, impose curfews

OVIEDO, Spain

The Spanish premier on Sunday announced that his country will declare a state of emergency and enforce curfews in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This state of emergency will provide a legal backdrop for regional leaders to take more drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus, even though they infringe on individual rights and freedoms.

“The state of emergency is a legal tool for extreme situations, and we are in an extreme situation,” Pedro Sanchez said in a televised speech.

According to the Spanish constitution, a state of emergency can only last 15 days before it could be extended by the Spanish Parliament. Yet, Sanchez said the Spanish government will seek a six-month extension that will last until May.

Sanchez also said that people across Spain, with the exception of the Canary Islands, will not be allowed on the streets between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. local time (2200-0500GMT) without justification, though the hours could vary.

Unlike the state of emergency that was declared in March and put the power in the hands of Spain’s central government, this time Spain’s regional governments will retain control of most of the decision-making.

Sanchez said that regional governments will be able to decide to start the curfew anytime between 10:00 p.m. and midnight and end it anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

The regional governments will also have the power to restrict movement in and out of their entire territory or smaller areas within the region.

Unlike most countries, Spain’s Health Ministry does not update coronavirus data on weekends. Yet, over Saturday and Sunday several regions, including Catalonia, reported record daily jumps in new infections.

Between last Monday and Friday, Spain as a whole saw cases surge by nearly 72,000, up nearly 60% compared to the last week.

“We believe we’ll be able to deal with the second wave without having to resort to a full lockdown like we had in spring [...] But the more everyone stays at home, the better it will be for public health,” said Sanchez.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Spanish democracy had only declared a state of emergency once – in 2010 to end an air traffic controller strike.

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