Spain decrees new state of emergency in COVID-19 fight

Belén Carreño and Jessica Jones, Reuters

Posted at Oct 25 2020 11:20 PM

Spanish National Police officers wearing protective masks stand at a traffic checkpoint during a partial lockdown amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Madrid, Spain October 5, 2020. Sergio Perez, Reuters

MADRID - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new state of emergency on Sunday in an effort to curb soaring coronavirus infections, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in certain cases.

"We are living in an extreme situation...it is the most serious in the last half century," he told a news conference following a cabinet meeting.

The measure goes into force from Sunday night and will require all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a nighttime curfew.

The state of emergency will need parliamentary approval to last beyond 15 days. Sanchez asked for parliament to approve its extension up to May 9.

A growing number of regions had been calling on the government to implement the measure.

Spain imposed one of the toughest lockdowns early on in the pandemic and then relaxed curbs over the summer.

But like many other European countries it has seen a second wave hit in recent weeks, and now has one of the highest numbers of infections in Western Europe. Total cases rose to 1,046,132 on Friday, while the death toll is nearing 35,000.

The decree will serve as a legal framework to implement a new warning system of levels, similar to the ones already applied in countries such as Germany and France.

According to the level of risk, traveling between regions could be banned if a regions decides, except for justified reasons such as working. Movement could also be restricted within regions in localized lockdowns.

Most of the regions are already above the parameters to be considered at the highest level of risk. 

(Writing by Jessica Jones Editing by Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry)