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Spain PM Works On New State Of Emergency To Curb Outbreak

A cyclist wearing face mask protection crosses along an empty High street, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, as new measures against the coronavirus began in the Navarra province where all bar and restaurants are closed for 15 days from midnight Wednesday.  (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

A cyclist wearing face mask protection crosses along an empty High street, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, as new measures against the coronavirus began in the Navarra province where all bar and restaurants are closed for 15 days from midnight Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Snchez called a Cabinet meeting Sunday to prepare a new state of emergency to stem surging coronavirus infections, a move that could impose curfews and other restrictions across the country.

BARCELONA, Spain: Spain declared a second nationwide state of emergency Sunday and ordered an overnight curfew across the country in hopes of stemming a resurgence in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Pedro Snchez said.

The Socialist leader told the nation in a televised address that the extraordinary measure will go into effect on Sunday night.

Snchez said that his government is using the state of emergency to impose an 11 p.m.-6 a.m. nationwide curfew, except in the Canary Islands.

Spains 19 regional leaders will have authority to set different hours for the curfew as long as they are stricter, close regional borders to travel and limit gatherings to six people who dont live together, the prime minister said.

The reality is that Europe and Spain are immersed in a second wave of the pandemic, Snchez said after meeting with his Cabinet.

The leader added that he would ask Parliament this week to extend the state of emergency for six months, until May.

Snchezs government said Saturday night that a majority of Spains regional leaders have agreed to a new state of emergency and the meeting Sunday was to study its terms.

The state of emergency gives the national government extraordinary powers, including the ability to temporarily restrict basic freedoms guaranteed in Spains Constitution such as the right to free movement.

Spains government has already declared two state of emergencies during the pandemic. The first was declared in March to apply a strict home confinement across the nation, close stores and recruit private industry for the national public health fight. It was lifted in June after reigning in the contagion rate and saving hospitals from collapse.

The second went into effect for two weeks in Madrid to force the capital’s reluctant regional leaders to impose travel limits on residents to slow down an outbreak in which new infections were growing exponentially. It lasted until Saturday.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has said his agency and regional health officials were studying how to apply nightly curfews, perhaps like the 9 p.m. ones already in place in France’s major cities.

The state of emergency would make it easier for authorities to take swift action, avoiding having to get many of the restrictions approved by a judge. Some judges have rejected efforts to limit movement in certain regions, causing confusion among the public.

Government officials on all levels were reticent to impose another complete home lockdown and industry shutdown, given the weakened state of Spain’s economy, which has plunged into a recession and seen its unemployment rolls skyrocket in recent months.

Spain this week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded COVID-19 cases. But Snchez admitted Friday in a nationally televised address that the true figure could be more than 3 million, due to gaps in testing and other factors.

Spain on Friday reported almost 20,000 new daily cases and 231 more deaths, taking the countrys death toll in the pandemic to 34,752.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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