October 2020International News2020Europe

Spain Declares State of Emergency Over COVID Spike

Shweta Parthasarathy
Staff Writer

In response to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, the Spanish government has declared a national state of emergency. As of October 30, the total number of cases in Spain reached 1,264,517 with 35,878 deaths reported. Among the new measures instituted to prevent another near-collapse of the country’s hospital capacity is an overnight curfew that will be in place for the next six months, reports the Associated Press.

The curfew, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, restricts outdoor movement between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. with exceptions for those commuting to work, buying medicine, or caring for family members. Officials in Spain’s 17 regions and 2 autonomous cities have the authority to modify the curfew to begin between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. and end between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. According to The Guardian, the state of emergency allows local officials to institute full or partial lockdowns and limit public and private gatherings to six people.

The curfew has been met with a backlash from Spanish citizens, reports Reuters. Some believe that the curfew is a pointless measure. Marta Aragoneses, a 36-year old school-teacher, tells Reuters, “The curfew doesn’t make much sense. Does the virus only infect people between 2300 and 0600? No.” Mariano Moreno de Guerra, a pharmacist working in Madrid, is worried about the power this curfew gives to authorities, saying, “They are acquiring a taste for confining people and that could be dangerous. Extending it by six months is an absolute outrage. I see a lot of potential for abuse.”

According to Reuters, government infighting is partly behind the increase in cases. Conflicts between the minority central government, regional authorities, and opposition have interfered with Spain’s ability to properly respond to the pandemic. Although the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the center-right Ciudadanos agreed on the need for a national state of emergency, they disagree on how long it should remain in effect.

Cases are continuing to rise in other parts of Europe. France, according to the Wall Street Journal, recorded over 52,000 new cases on October 25 despite a similar curfew being instituted in major French cities last week. BBC News reports that the UK had 19,790 new cases on Oct. 25, while its current death toll of 46,229 remains the highest in Europe. Italy, in response to the resurgence, also reinstituted strict coronavirus protection measures. Most shops and businesses will remain open with safety measures in place, but the country’s cinemas, swimming pools, theaters, and gyms are now closed as of Oct. 26. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a press conference Sunday, “We think that we will suffer a bit this month but by gritting our teeth with these restrictions, we’ll be able to breathe again in December.”

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