On Friday evening, the Catalan government also asked the Spanish government for a state of alarm in order to impose nightlife curfews to further combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Catalonia seeks to impose a curfew which would reportedly be put in place from 11pm-6am, once the state of alarm is approved.
Catalan vice-president Pere Aragonès also announced on Friday that other mobility restrictions would not be ruled out if required to keep the virus from spreading.
The request from Catalonia followed a similar petition from the Basque Country earlier on Friday, where the head of the government (termed the ‘Lehendakari’), Íñigo Urkullu, asked Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez to also declare a state of alarm in the region. His petition, made via a video call to Sánchez, also asked for the ‘command and management’ of the state of alarm be held by his regional government. Catalonia has requested the same, in what would work as a decentralised state of alarm if approved by the central government.
Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja, Valencia, Navarra, and the autonomous city of Melilla have now also called for similar action – making a current total of 10 regions in Spain requesting state of alarm measures.
It has also been reported in the Spanish media that the government is preparing to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting this Sunday, in order to approve a nationwide state of alarm, specifically for the purpose of being able to enforce regional curfews.
Figures published on Friday 23 Oct by the Spanish Health Ministry have shown that there have been 192,035 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Catalonia since the start of the pandemic, of which 34,364 have been registered in the past 14 days – an infection rate of 447.73 per 100,000 inhabitants for the same period. There has officially been a total of 5,960 deaths in Catalonia from Covid-19.
The Basque Country has seen a total of 57,628 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, 9,501 of which have been within the last 14 days. This is an infection rate of 430.34 per 100,000 inhabitants. There has been a total of 2,032 deaths from Covid-19 in the Basque Country.
There have now been 1,046,132 confirmed cases of Coronavirus across all of Spain since the start of the pandemic. This week, it became the first Western European country to surpass one million cases.
All bars and restaurants have already been closed in Catalonia for at least 15 days – since Friday 16 October – with only takeaway and delivery services being allowed. Protests took place last weekend in Barcelona against the new measures, organised mainly by the hospitality sector. However, hundreds of young citizens who don’t work in the sector also rallied, with many protesting for the ‘right to a safe nightlife and social life’.
On Monday, the Catalan government also ordered 24/7 convenience stores to close from between 10pm until 7am, as a further measure to stop the possible spread of Coronavirus infections through street drinking parties (‘botellons’).
On Friday Pedro Sánchez described the situation in Spain as ‘serious’ and said that ‘the next months will be very hard’. To avoid a new national lockdown, he appealed for ‘social discipline’ and ‘team spirit’ in order to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections.
His address followed a meeting on Thursday of the ‘Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System’ between Spain’s central Health Ministry and all regional health authorities, in which a consensus on a nationwide nightlife curfew was not reached, despite support from a majority of the regional authorities. Without a nationwide agreement in place, each region must request its own form of a state of alarm in order to impose curfews, and in order to avoid court appeals.
Spain entered its ‘New Normality’ phase on 22 June after the central government ended a nationwide state of alarm that had been in place since 14 March. The ‘New Normality’ followed on from the government’s four phased plan to relax the country’s lockdown restrictions. Since then, responsibility for public healthcare and managing the Coronavirus pandemic had been left in the hands of Spain’s 17 regional governments.
A state of alarm was imposed on the region of Madrid on Friday 9 October, however, officially for a period of 15 days. It expires on the afternoon of Saturday 24 October. The same measures that were in place for a previous partial lockdown in Madrid became enforceable only via the state of alarm, after the region’s authorities had opposed the original measures in court. With the imminent lifting of the state of alarm, the Madrid regional authorities have already announced new measures to come into effect.
Click here for all previous reports on: Coronavirus in Spain
ALSO READ: Spain’s ‘New Normality’ – key points