Spain declares state of alarm, enabling Catalonia to impose night curfew
Madrid grants emergency powers to regional governments amid surging coronavirus numbers, and pledges to extend the measure until May
The Spanish government declared the second country-wide state of alarm of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday afternoon, this time delegating emergency powers to regional authorities like the Catalan government for as long as next spring.
"We think we can get over it without a total lockdown, without stopping the country," said Spanish president Pedro Sánchez in a press conference while urging Spaniards to stay home.
After weeks of increasingly dire Covid-19 figures, which led to the closure of bars and restaurants, Catalonia called for another state of alarm to expand executive powers and be able to pass more restrictive measures like a night curfew while leapfrogging judicial oversight.
"We think we can get over it without a total lockdown, without stopping the country"
Pedro Sánchez · Spanish president
Unlike in March, when Spanish president Pedro Sánchez imposed a single chain of command to fight the first wave of contagion, Madrid has opted for a decentralized state of alarm primarily managed by regional governments.
A minimum curfew was set from 12 am to 7 am, which regional authorities can extend from 10 pm to 7 am. The Canary Islands, where coronavirus contagion is under control, are the only region excluded from the measure.
In Catalonia, the curfew will come into force on Sunday night from 10 pm to 6 am, and all places open to the public will have to close their doors by 9 pm.
Regional authorities are also allowed to impose total or partial lockdowns within their borders, and social gatherings will be limited to 6 people, a measure already in place in Catalonia.
Until May 9, pending congressional approval
Next week, Sánchez will seek the support of lawmakers in the Spanish Congress to extend the state of alarm until May 9, with no further extensions needed.
In place from March to June, the first state of alarm was subject to parliamentary approval every two weeks — a challenging task considering the politically fragmented alliance of left-wing and regional parties that brought Sánchez to power.
While hoping to reduce his dependence on lawmakers, Sánchez said that health minister Salvador Illa will appear before Congress to report on the coronavirus situation every two weeks.