Spain braces for national emergency to allow curfews


Spain braces for national emergency to allow curfews

Saturday, October 24, 2020

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MADRID,Spain(AFP)— Spain was bracing for a new national state of emergency to allow the imposition of curfews as its regions on Saturday pushed for action to slow surging virus cases.

In the face of growing calls for a legal framework to allow regional chiefs to impose tougher restrictions, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's cabinet was to hold a special meeting at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) on Sunday to decide on the matter.

Ministers were "to study the conditions for a new state of emergency," a government statement said, indicating that such a proposal had been "positively welcomed by most of Spain's autonomous communities, who had requested it".

The calls came just days after Spain registered more than one million virus cases, becoming the sixth country in the world to pass the grim milestone -- and the first in the European Union.

So far, nine of Spain's 17 autonomous regions have formally requested that the government declare a national state of emergency which would enable them to impose a curfew -- a measure increasingly applied across Europe.

Spain used such powers in the spring to enforce one of the world's tightest lockdowns, and a similar measure has been in force in Madrid for the past fortnight -- although only to impose movement restrictions on the capital and various nearby towns.

That measure ended just before 1500 GMT when new regional restrictions came into force, including a ban on all gatherings, in public and private, of people who don't live in the same household between midnight and 6:00 am.

"They probably should have done this a long time ago or taken other steps like restricting the number of people taking public transport or going to work," 22-year-old student Patricia Vazquez told AFPTV.

"In Spain, the restrictions are different in each region. In Madrid, if you look at how the infections are evolving, it seems like they're not taking the necessary steps," agreed Eduardo Debiasi, 48, who works in marketing and said more should be done.

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