Spain mulls curfew in next step to curb coronavirus spread

Spain mulls curfew in next step to curb coronavirus spread
Photo: AFP
Authorities in the Madrid region are weighing up whether to introduce a city-wide curfew on residents once the current State of Emergency is lifted.

The Spanish government said Tuesday it was considering imposing a nighttime curfew to halt a rise in virus infections as has been put in place in other European nations like France and Belgium.

“The possibility of imposing a curfew, I insist, is something we have to consider. We have to study that possibility and we are open to everything,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference.

The minister said “several” regional governments, which he did not name, had proposed the measure and the central government was considering the request but his comments came hours after Madrid regional health chief called for such a move. 

“The curfew would allow … that at some hours there’s no mobility, like France has done for example,” Madrid region health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero told Europa Press in an interview on Tuesday.

But Escudero admitted that there was currently no legal framework for regional authorities to impose the order, adding that they would have to ask the central government to pass the measure.

The curfew would see residents confined to their homes between certain hours following measures that have already been introduced in Paris and eight other cities across France.

The measure introduced by President Emmanuel Macron’s government last weeks orders citizens in France’s most blighted cities to stay inside their homes between 9pm and 6am, unless they have a valid reason to be outside (such as work, medical errands or other exceptions).

His comments came amid growing uncertainty on what would happen once the State of Emergency expires.

The measure was imposed on the Madrid region by the central government after regional authorities made a legal appeal against a Health Ministry order in a political spat that has hampered the battle to control coronavirus infections.

But it expires on Saturday unless the government seeks for the order to be extended, a move which needs the approval of a majority of lawmakers in Spain’s Congress and which is unlikely to occur.

Escudero also suggested that Madrid regional government was considering a return to the plan that saw smaller “health zones” confined based on the epidemiological evidence rather than the situation of a perimeter confinement around Madrid city  limits.

Imposing a curfew would require invoking a state of emergency on a national level and the government would want to have the support of the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) to adopt it, Illa explained.

 

Useful vocabulary

  • un toque de queda – curfew
  • un confinamiento total  – total lockdown
  • un confinamiento perimetral de la capital – a perimeter confinement of the capital
  • entró en vigor – comes into force

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