Spain's regions urge government to impose state of emergency to allow curfews

by Reuters
Saturday, 24 October 2020 13:40 GMT

(Adds Valencia region curfew)

MADRID, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Spanish regions are urging the central government to take measures that would give them legal backing to impose curfews as the country battles a resurgent coronavirus epidemic.

As of Saturday, 10 of Spain's 17 regions, including Asturias, Castilla-La Mancha and the Basque Country, had called on the government to decree a state of emergency, which would allow regions to limit people's movement.

Regions expect the government to call a special Council of Ministers meeting on Sunday to approve the measure, Spanish media including El Pais reported.

"I would say with almost total certainty there will be one. But it has not officially been called yet," a source from the Spanish government told Reuters.

Meanwhile the Valencia region announced its own curfew from Saturday night until Dec. 9.

Valencia region president Ximo Puig said the curfew, between midnight and 6am, would be covered by a law on procedural measures to deal with COVID-19 which "implicitly" states that such measures could be taken without the need for a state of emergency.

While many regions favour some form of curfew, the Madrid region opposes it, a stance which has so far prevented a nationwide decision.

Spain has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Western Europe. Total cases rose to 1,046,132 on Friday, while the death toll is nearing 38,000.

Catalonia said on Friday night it would impose a curfew across the region, which includes Barcelona, as soon as the central government acted.

"We need a decentralised state of emergency in which the Catalan government maintains all management capacity," deputy Catalan leader Pere Aragones told a news conference.

Other regions could follow Valencia and impose curfews by alternative means, such as going through regional courts, if the central government does not act.

"If the central government does nothing, we will approve a curfew," Murcia's regional president Fernando Lopez Miras, told Spanish broadcaster TVE on Saturday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government would likely have enough votes to pass the measure in parliament. It would have the votes of the Basque Nationalist Party and other regional parties who support the measure. (Reporting by Jessica Jones Editing by Alison Williams and David Holmes)

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