Spain has declared a second nationwide state of emergency and ordered an overnight curfew across the country in hopes of stemming a resurgence in coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the curfew, between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00, would come into force on Sunday night. Under the emergency measures, local authorities can also ban travel between regions, he said.
The state of emergency gives the national government extraordinary powers, including the ability to temporarily restrict basic freedoms guaranteed in Spain’s Constitution such as the right to free movement.
Spain’s 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 don’t live together.
“The reality is that Europe and Spain are immersed in a second wave of the pandemic,” Sánchez 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.
Spain was hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year and imposed a much more restrictive lockdown – one of the toughest in the world.
This week, it became the first European country to surpass one million officially recorded COVID-19 cases. But Sánchez admitted Friday in a nationally televised address that the true figure could be more than three million, due to gaps in testing and other factors.
On Friday, the country reported almost 20,000 new daily cases and 231 more deaths, taking its death toll in the pandemic to 34,752.
Many other European regions, including Italy, Belgium, France and the UK, have been hit by a second wave of infections.