Spain mulls curfew measures, gov’t calls for political unity

Madrid, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Spain’s government on Tuesday said it was mulling the possibility of nightly curfews in regions with high coronavirus infection rates but warned that such a measure would have to be legally underpinned by a nationwide state of alarm.

Health minister Salvador Illa said he would hold discussions with the country’s regional leaders on Thursday but added that a renewed state of alarm in Spain would require cross-party support.

“With respect to a curfew, which is a measure that we can see is being applied in a number of European countries with similar, and sometimes lower, (infection) rates, it requires a state of alarm,” he told a press conference.

The Spanish government, a Socialist Party-led coalition with left-wing junior partners Unidas Podemos, invoked a state of alarm to underpin the national lockdown that from mid-March to June kept Spaniards largely housebound as a way to bring Covid-19 levels down.

But the measure needs ratifying every 15 days by Parliament — no easy feat for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s minority executive, which faces staunch opposition from the conservative Popular Party and the far-right Vox party.

The powers to draw up Covid-19 measures was handed to regional leaders when the lockdown was lifted.

Illa on Tuesday said the PP would need to clarify its position if the government was to go ahead with another national state of alarm.

Sánchez said in a separate press conference on Tuesday that Spain’s regions could count on the central government’s support in applying tighter coronavirus restrictions.

The possibility of a curfew was proposed by Enrique Ruiz Escudero, a regional health minister in Madrid, where a national government-enforced local state of alarm is due to expire on Saturday. The government confirmed it would not seek to extend the emergency measure.

Madrid’s local president, senior PP figure Isabel Díaz Ayuso, opposed the central government’s decision to enforce a state of alarm on 9 October.

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