Spain decrees new state of emergency in COVID-19 fight

25 Octobre, 2020, 17:37 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Residents wearing face mask protection as they walk along an empty Javier street in Pamplona northern Spain Saturday Oct. 24 2020 as new measures against the coronavirus began in the Navarra province where all bar and restaurants are closed for 15

New coronavirus restrictions were to take effect in Madrid on Saturday as the Spanish government weighed declaring a national state of emergency to allow curfews to be imposed.

Buckling under the resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe, the Spanish government on Sunday declared a national state of emergency that includes an overnight curfew in hopes of not repeating the near collapse of the country's hospitals.

"The situation we are going through is extreme", he stressed.

Bars and restaurants must now close at midnight, compared with 11:00 pm under the state of emergency, and their indoor seating capacity will remain fixed at 50 percent. "Everyone knows what they have to do", the prime minister said Sunday.

Sanchez said he will ask Parliament's lower house this week to extend the state of emergency until May.

But for now, the government seems to have secured enough support to push through any future extension without relying on the PP, with backing from the centre-right Ciudadanos and Basque and Catalan separatist parties - together accounting for 37 seats.

Spain decrees new state of emergency in COVID-19 fight

So far, none of the regions run by the rightwing opposition Popular Party (PP) have requested a national emergency, mirroring the party's ongoing bitter standoff with the Sanchez government over its handling of the pandemic.

The state of emergency makes it easier for authorities to take swift action, avoiding having to get numerous restrictions approved by a judge. Movement could also be restricted within regions in localised lockdowns.

On Wednesday, Spain became the sixth country in the world to pass a million confirmed cases and the first within the European Union, although on Friday Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the "real number" was more than three times higher. Sanchez acknowledged Friday in a nationally televised address that the true figure could be more than 3 million, due to gaps in testing and other factors.

Spain on Friday reported nearly 20,000 new daily cases and 231 more deaths, taking the country's death toll in the pandemic to 34,752, but the true death toll is likely much higher.

The latest figures show the virus has claimed almost 35,000 lives in Spain and infected at least 1,046,132 people.

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