Madrid, Oct 25 (efe-epa).- The Spanish government on Sunday decreed a new state of alarm and announced a night-time curfew as authorities grapple with a second wave of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he would ask parliament to keep the emergency mechanism in place for six months, until 9 May.
“The situation we’re in is extreme,” Sánchez said. “The reality is Europe and Spain are immersed in the second wave of Covid-19.”
The curfew is to come into effect between 11 pm and 6 am across the nation but regional leaders can adjust the timing by an hour each way. Regions will also be able to restrict the travel across their borders and enforce localized lockdowns.
The Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination, were spared the new restrictions given its relatively low infection rates compared to mainland Spain.
Sánchez said 10 Spanish regions and the autonomous city of Melilla had requested the government approve the state of alarm, which gives them legal backing to impose measures such as a curfew.
In Spain, a state of alarm would normally come up for review in parliament every 15 days, which has been an issue for Sánchez in the past as his Socialist Party-led coalition government lacks a working majority in the chamber.
He said the government aimed to bring Spain’s cumulative incidence rate down from 362 cases per 100,000 people to 25 per 100,000.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “But I do not doubt that we will achieve it in this second wave.”
It is the second time during the pandemic that Spain’s government has resorted to the state of alarm. The first time came in mid-March when the government ordered the country’s 47 million people to stay at home.
With social gatherings already limited to a maximum of six people, Sánchez on Sunday urged citizens to avoid unnecessary social contact.
The first state of alarm expired in June amid waning parliamentary support. The government then handed the coronavirus response to regional leaders in Spain’s highly decentralized political system.
Spain became the first Western European country to log more than one million Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic but Sánchez last week said the true scope of the figures was likely closer to three million.
Almost 35,000 have died from Covid-19 in Spain.EFE-EPA