State of alarm draft: Spain limits movement to fight coronavirus

Work, buying basic goods and take care of dependent people among only reasons to leave home, as Madrid could take over Catalan health and police

Spanish president Pedro Sánchez gives a press conference on the coronavirus crisis in the country (by Pool Moncloa / JM Cuadrado i Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)
Spanish president Pedro Sánchez gives a press conference on the coronavirus crisis in the country (by Pool Moncloa / JM Cuadrado i Borja Puig de la Bellacasa) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 14, 2020 03:12 PM

The Spanish government will limit the movement of people across Spain to fight the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus, according to a draft.

In Saturday afternoon's extraordinary Spanish cabinet meeting, the specific measures involved in the state of alarm, to be put in force from Saturday, were decided.

These include allowing citizens to only leave home to buy basic goods, work, go to a doctor, take care of dependent people, or force majeure.

Spanish president Pedro Sánchez is expected to announce the measures shortly, after the cabinet meeting is lasting more than expected. 

The new enhanced measures come one day after Sánchez announced that Spain would enter the state of alarm as of Saturday, once the ministers agreed on the specific measures. 

Taking over Catalan health and police

The draft also included that Spain would take over the powers of all health, emergency services, and police authorities at all levels. This would imply that Madrid would directly be in charge of all the key services that are facing the coronavirus crisis in Catalonia, currently managed by Quim Torra's government.

This measure is provided in Spanish law in the event of a state of alarm, but on Saturday afternoon, the Catalan cabinet flatly rejected this possibility.

"We can't allow the Spanish government to take over our responsibilities," said spokesperson Meritxell Budó in a press conference.

She also revealed that the Catalan president, Quim Torra and the Basque leader, Íñigo Urkullu, had a phone call in which both shared "concern" about a possible Spanish government takeover with the state of alarm decree.

Catalan president urges Spain to cooperate for lockdown

The delay in the Spanish cabinet meeting resulting in the meeting between Pedro Sánchez and all regional presidents, including that of Catalonia, Quim Torra, be delayed until Sunday. 

Torra has already criticized the delay, and insisted that Catalonia needs a lockdown, urging Spain to cooperate blocking the main ports, airports and train links, under Madrid control. 

Over 5,700 new covid-19 cases in Spain

This comes as the latest figures, updated on Saturday early afternoon, showed that 5,753 people have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning 1,544 more than 24 hours before. According to Spain's health ministry, 136 people have died because of the pandemic in Spain, 15 more than Friday, and that the Madrid region is the main cluster, with 2,940 cases. 

In Catalonia, 715 people have tested positive of covid-19 so far.