Coronavirus crisis: emergency decree bans all non-essential movement

Pedro Sánchez on Saturday.
Pedro Sánchez on Saturday. / EFE
  • The Spanish government declared a state of alarm on Saturday, ordering the general public to stay at home, unless they need to go out to buy food or medication, to go to and from work, to care for dependents, or go to the bank

The Spanish government has taken drastic measures to curb the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 and declared a 'state of alarm', restricting the movement of its citizens.

Measures, confirmed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Saturday evening, include a lockdown across the country, allowing only essential journeys and outings.

The general public in Spain will have to stay in their homes (or in their accommodation in the case of tourists), except to go to work and to meet essential needs.

The text of the decree approved by the Cabinet specifies the following situations in which people will be allowed to be in public areas: to buy food and pharmaceutical products and essential goods; to go to health centres and hospitals; to travel to a workplace; to return home from a workplace; to care for elderly people, children, dependents, people with disabilities or those who are specially vulnerable; trips to banks; force majeure or a situation of necessity or "any other activity whose essential nature is duly justified".

Commercial, cultural, sports and leisure premises will remain closed, something that has already been ordered by regional or local authorities, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies and other establishments providing essential products.

Museums, cultural and sports centres will remain closed.

Public transport services will be reduced to 50 per cent.

Church services, religious and other ceremonies will be permitted as long as measures are taken to prevent a build-up of people in any one place, respecting a distance of one metre between individuals.

The measures will be in force initially for two weeks.

"This is a time for social discipline," said Sánchez, stressing the need for each inidividual to respect their responsibility in helping stop the spread of the virus, and to protect the most vulnerable, the elderly.

The transport of goods will not be restricted in order to guarantee supplies reaching supermarkets.

The Spanish government will guarantee the supply of foods and other essential goods, utilities and services, explained the prime minister on Saturday evening.

The Minister of the Interior will have the power to close roads if necessary.

There will be greater presence of the security forces on the streets and the armed forces are now all under the orders of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska.

Sánchez said that he would speak to all regional presidents on Sunday and said that "coordination is an obligation". "The virus does not distinguish between territories or ideologies," he said.