Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Spain counts 40,197 new infections, all-time high

Regional governments clash with central authorities over enforcing stricter anti-COVID measures

Alyssa McMurtry   | 15.01.2021
Spain counts 40,197 new infections, all-time high

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain on Friday shattered its previous record for daily cases, with the Health Ministry reporting a staggering 40,197 new coronavirus infections.

This is the third day in a row that Spain registered a record-breaking daily surge in cases. On Thursday, the ministry reported nearly 36,000 more infections.

Nearly 30% of the country’s available intensive care units, including temporary ones, are now occupied by COVID-19 patients. In Valencia, La Rioja, and Catalonia, that figure is closer to 50%.

On Friday, more of Spain’s regions moved to tighten restrictions, including Madrid, which moved the nightly curfew from midnight until 11 p.m.

But more and more regional leaders are clashing with Spain’s central authorities over the current emergency legislation, which does not allow for a full lockdown and puts limits on tools like curfews.

On Friday, the government of Castile and Leon announced that starting Saturday it was moving the nightly curfew to 8 p.m.

Yet, shortly after, Spain’s Health Ministry told the regional government that the move was not possible, according to officials in Castile and Leon.

Under Spain’s state of emergency legislation, which took effect in late October and is set to last until early May, the earliest curfew permitted is at 10 p.m.

Galician Premier Alberto Feijoo also hit out at the government for rejecting his idea to set a curfew at 6 p.m., a strategy announced by French officials this week.

“It’s a reasonable proposal but we can’t adopt it because the government won’t authorize it,’ he told broadcaster Antena 3 on Friday.

This week, the regional governments of Asturias, Murcia, Andalusia, and Castile and Leon have all asked the government to grant them powers to enforce stay-at-home-orders.

Health Minister Salvador Illa rejected those petitions and ruled out changing the legislation to permit full lockdowns for now.

He said he would rather wait to see if the tighter measures announced recently by regional governments help bring down the curve of infections.

Spain was able to bring down the second wave in November without entering a full lockdown.

Since the Christmas holidays came to an end, regions across Spain have taken measures like enforcing curfews as early as 10 p.m., limiting gathering sizes, and forbidding non-essential movement in and out of cities and regions.

Ibiza, Mallorca, and Castile and Leon have also shut down bars and restaurants.

But compared to other European countries facing record spikes like Portugal, France, the UK, Ireland, and Germany, Spain’s rules remain relatively lax.


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