Spain's Supreme Court will have final say on Covid measures when state of alarm ends

Catalan government "concerned" that Spanish executive has "transferred management of the pandemic to the courts"

Vehicles at the Catalan-Andorran border, January 7, 2021 (by Albert Lijarcio)
Vehicles at the Catalan-Andorran border, January 7, 2021 (by Albert Lijarcio) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona/Madrid

May 4, 2021 05:39 PM

Spain's Supreme Court will have the final say on Catalonia's measures against Covid-19, once the state of alarm comes to an end on May 9.

The Spanish government approved a decree on Tuesday that allows the devolved administrations in the autonomous regions to appeal to the Supreme Court in the event that regional courts overturn restrictions that they impose.

From May 9, the Catalan High Court will have to approve any measures that impinge on people's fundamental rights. The decree amends existing law to give regional governments the new right to appeal those decisions, meaning that Spain's Supreme Court will have the last word and harmonize decisions in cases where there are discrepancies among regional courts.

The Supreme Court will have five days to resolve any appeals.

Spain's vice-president, Carmen Calvo, explained that the decree gives "legal support" to administrations to "maintain exceptional protection measures" against Covid-19. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Calvo argued that involving the Supreme Court guarantees "equality" between autonomous regions because it will be able to "unify doctrine," and allow a "calm and safe" transition out of the state of alarm.

Catalan government "concerned"

The Catalan government however has criticized both the move and the way it has been communicated. Acting president Pere Aragonès said he regretted the fact that they had not been able to read the Spanish government's decree and reproached Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, saying, "this is not the way to do it."

Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó said that "transferring the management of the pandemic to the courts will cause a delay in decision-making."

She said that the government was "concerned that decisions that should be based on health criteria and taken by health authorities are being transferred to the courts."

Catalonia will end night curfew and reopen borders

Earlier on Tuesday, the Catalan government confirmed it will end the nightly curfew and reopen land borders to other regions in Spain on May 9, coinciding with the end of the state of alarm.

Aragonès demanded "maximum responsibility" from citizens, and reminded people that even as Covid-19 restrictions are loosened, the fight against the pandemic is not over.

"Now we will start returning to normality after it has been necessary to sacrifice it for the sake of protecting lives and public health," Aragonés said. "But we can't completely leave the health emergency behind yet."

Six months after it came into force, the nightly curfew will be lifted on midnight on Saturday night, putting an end to one of the most restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Other restrictions will remain in place such as the limit of gatherings to six people and the compulsory use of face masks. Bars and restaurants will be able to open until 11 pm.

The government also announced on Tuesday that it has given up plans to pass new legislation to be able to introduce new coronavirus restrictions after the state of alarm ends.