Spain declares state of emergency to impose regional curfews

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Health workers in the coronavirus area of Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic. — courtesy Francisco Avia/Hospital Clinic via Twitter
Health workers in the coronavirus area of Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic. — courtesy Francisco Avia/Hospital Clinic via Twitter

MADRID — The Spanish government on Sunday agreed to declare a new state of emergency, which would allow a curfew to be imposed across the country as it continues to battle a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

An extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers was held here Sunday morning "in order to examine the terms of a new royal decree on a state of alert," a communiqué released by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's office said on Saturday evening.

It added that "the proposal has been welcomed by the majority" of Spain's regional governments, "which have requested it".

In a meeting that lasted two hours, the Cabinet agreed to an initial 15-day state of alarm. Local media reports claim the government intends to extend the measure until April.

Regions across Spain will now be subject to a curfew at night from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. CET.

On Saturday evening, administrations in at least nine regions had asked the central government in Madrid to declare a state of emergency or voiced their support for the move.

This will be the second state of emergency declared this year in Spain after one in March to contain the first wave of the coronavirus lasted until June.

This is just the fourth time a state of emergency has been declared since Spain's transition to democracy in the 1970s.

Two days earlier, Spain became the first European Union country and the sixth in the world to exceed one million cases of COVID-19. Spain has so far recorded nearly 35,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Sanchez decided to act after he was assured that he would have sufficient support to obtain the renewal of this state of health emergency when it expires after 15 days.

The PM is leading a minority left-wing coalition government, but Basque and Catalan nationalists and even a small center-right party, Ciudadanos, which is part of the conservative opposition, are insisting on a state of emergency, guaranteeing him the necessary votes when the time comes.

The government has tried unsuccessfully to convince the main right-wing opposition party, the Popular Party (PP), to support this measure. The PP has fiercely opposed the government's declaration of a state of emergency in Madrid earlier this month. — Euronews


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