Spainish Goverment orders nationwide lockdown to battle coronavirus

March 15, 2020
News brought to you by Linea Directa.

The 'State of Alarm' (Estado de Alarma) came into effect here in the Valancian Community on Saturday but last night the Spanish government formally declared a state of emergency (state of alarm) over the coronavirus, placing the whole of the country in lockdown and ordering people to stay at home for the next two weeks unless they have to buy food or medicine or go to work or hospital.

Speaking after a seven-hour cabinet meeting on Saturday evening, the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said “extraordinary decisions” needed to be taken as Spain grappled with a “health, social and economic crisis”.

Spain is the country most affected by the coronavirus in Europe after Italy and has so far confirmed 6,251 cases and 193 deaths. 

Sánchez said the central government would direct the response and that all the local, national and regional police forces would come under the command of the interior ministry. He also said that the army was standing by and ready to help with the emergency response.

The prime minister confirmed that people would be required to stay home from Monday morning and that all non-essential shops would close, along with bars, restaurants, cafes and cinemas.

Supermarkets, small food shops, pharmacies, petrol stations and pet supply shops, hairdressers, dry cleaners and launderetts are among those businesses that will remain open.

He said: “During the state of emergency, people will only be allowed out on to public streets for the following reasons: to buy food, basic or pharmaceutical items; to attend medical centres; to go to and from work; to look after children, older people or those with disabilities or who are especially vulnerable; and to attend financial or insurance offices on force majeure grounds.”

Sánchez acknowledged that the measures needed to tackle the coronavirus would have a “big economic impact” but said the government was committed to mitigating its effects.

The emergency powers, set out in article 116 of the constitution, have not been used since 2010, when the article was enacted in response to an air traffic controllers’ strike.

The state of emergency will initially apply for a fortnight, but can be extended with parliamentary approval.

Schools and universities are already shut across Spain, and the measures contained in the emergency decree come after the regional governments of Valancia, Madrid, Murcia, Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias had already ordered the closure of all non-essential shops and bars.

All these measures are aimed at protecting public health and safety, as well as to contain the progression of the virus. The advice is to stay at home.

For official public health information in the Valancian Community.

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Also last night sounds of car horns sounding, clapping and cheering could be heard around the town as the people paid tribute to those that are tackling the virus and at the same time putting themselves in danger of catching it.