Spain brings in nationwide curfew from 11pm to 6am as new state of alarm is declared

Spain brings in nationwide curfew from 11pm to 6am as new state of alarm is declared
  • The new state of alarm allows for the restriction of social gatherings to six people and regional authorities will be able to restrict travel between regions, provinces or smaller areas

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez has announced a nationwide curfew between 11pm and 6am, although regional authorities will be able to vary the times by one hour on either side.

The curfew, brought in given the increase in Covid-19 infections in this second wave of the pandemic, applies to the entire country, except for the Canary Islands. Exceptions for the rule include those who need to go out for work purposes or to care for an elderly person, among other reasons.

The state of alarm allows for the limitation of private and public gatherings to six people. It will be up to regional authorities to apply the new restrictions.

Regional governments will be able to ban travel to other regions, or restrict movement between smaller areas.

The prime minister stressed, as he did in his speech on Friday, that he wanted to avoid a repeat of the total lockdown in March when people were confined to their homes.

"There's no general confinement in this new state of alarm, but we should stay at home as much as possible," said Sánchez.

The prime minister announced the measures after the government declared a new state of alarm to give the national and regional governments the powers to impose harsher restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus.

The move was demanded by several regional leaders seeking a legal framework to prevent their measures, especially those restricting citizens' movement, from being challenged in the courts.

The text of the declaration of the new state of alarm signed by ministers on Sunday stresses the need for MPs to approve a long-term extension, for six months until May 2021. The state of alarm can only be declared by a government for two weeks and an extension will have to be debated by MPs in Congreso.

Several regions had already brought in stricter measures this weekend prior to the state of alarm declaration.

Andalucía announced a nighttime curfew for the city of Granada and surrounding towns and villages at the end of last week.

Sánchez's speech on Friday sparked a stream of requests from regional leaders who, given the change in the pandemic for the worse, want to be able to bring in harsher restrictions on movement or curfews without legal problems.

By Saturday morning the Basque Country, Catalonia, Cantabria, Asturias, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, Castilla-La Mancha and the region of Valencia, as well as the city of Melilla has all asked the prime minister to declare a state of alarm. Several months ago, Sánchez had invited regional leaders to call for the measure if they thought it necessary, but until this weekend none had.

Regional authorities stressed the importance of legal backing for their decisions on restrictions, especially after recent cases in which measures have been ruled by courts to be violating civil liberties.

The Spanish Constitution includes the state of alarm as a tool that can be used "in health crises such as pandemics" and allows governments to limit the movement of people at certain times and places.