CORONAVIRUS

In race to ramp up Covid restrictions, some Spanish regions get pushback from courts

In Navarre, judges have turned down a request for a night curfew despite soaring infection levels

A police officer in Pamplona, Navarre, which again cancelled its world-famous Running of the Bulls festival this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A police officer in Pamplona, Navarre, which again cancelled its world-famous Running of the Bulls festival this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.Eduardo Sanz / Europa Press

The fifth wave of the coronavirus is pushing authorities in Spain to adopt new restrictions in a bid to contain infections, which are largely affecting young, unvaccinated people. But regional governments, which are in charge of their own health policies, are sometimes coming up against the courts in their bid to introduce highly restrictive measures such as curfews.

Navarre was the latest case on Tuesday, despite soaring infection rates there. But there were other cases elsewhere in Spain last week, even as Catalonia secured authorization for similar measures. And the Basque Country’s recent request to reintroduce outdoor masking on a national level is meeting with a lukewarm response from the central government.

The following is an updated list of the latest changes affecting parts of Spain.

Catalonia

The northeastern region last week introduced a curfew in 161 municipalities, including Barcelona, and said that the measure would be extended or eliminated on a weekly basis depending on the changing case rate of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, a Catalan government spokesperson said that authorities will on Wednesday request permission to introduce the curfew in Lleida and 17 other municipalities, including Roses and Salt (Girona). Residents of areas under curfew are not allowed out on the streets from 1am to 6am, although there were numerous scenes of street partying in Barcelona last weekend.

Navarre

The regional High Court on Tuesday refused to authorize a 1am-6am curfew for the northern region, where the government had asked for permission to introduce the restriction in municipalities with high infection levels. The 14-day incidence in Navarre is now more than 800 cases per 100,000, compared with the national average of 628. Last week, courts in Extremadura and the Canary Islands rejected similar requests by regional governments there, while curfews were greenlighted by judges in Cantabria and the Valencia region.

Basque Country

The regional premier, Iñigo Urkullu, has sent a letter to the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, calling on him to make face masks obligatory in public spaces once more. At the end of June, the government changed the rules about the coverings, and since then citizens are allowed to go without them while outside provided social distancing be observed. Urkullu has also called on the Socialist Party (PSOE) leader to grant more “legal security” to the regions so that they can limit nighttime mobility and restrict the number of people who can meet. The Basque Country is one of several regions in Spain that has tried to implement strict coronavirus measures, only for them to be struck down by the regional courts. Urkullu was one of the leading voices calling for a state of alarm to be introduced in order to give the regions sufficient legal powers to limit mobility without the courts rejecting such actions.

Isabel Rodríguez, the Spanish government’s new spokesperson, alluded to Urkullu’s petition at news conference following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “The government feels there is leeway for the regions to make progress with infection containment measures. That’s the framework we believe we need to work within,” she said, noting that it is still mandatory to wear masks outdoors in Spain if a safety distance between people cannot be maintained.

Andalusia

The southern region registered 3,687 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, meaning that it has now seen five days with more than 3,000 infections detected. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants has also risen for the ninth consecutive day, and currently stands at 418.5 – 20 points up compared to two days ago, and 120.4 points up in a week. The region has not seen such figures since February, when the incidence was at 411.2 points.

At a news conference following the Andalusian Cabinet meeting, government official Elías Bendodo said that “if measures need to be toughened up, we will toughen them up.” A committee of experts is due to meet on Tuesday at 6pm to discuss the situation, and any new measures will be announced at that time.

Balearic Islands

The regional government in the Balearics has opted to increase fines for those taking part in street-drinking parties – known in Spain as botellones – to a minimum of €1,000, and has also approved a ban on meetings in private homes between 1am and 6am. The restrictions are due to be approved today and will enter into force provided they are approved by the regional courts. The government spokesperson, Iago Negueruela, has also called on citizens to keep wearing masks in all circumstances. There are also plans in the Balearics to bring forward bar and restaurant closures from 2am to 1am, and to reduce the occupation of tables and both outside and inside.

Castilla y León

The regional government in Castilla y León on Monday adopted a series of special measures focused on hospitality, nightlife, celebrations and public events given the notable increase in Covid-19 cases there. The measures, which are due to go into effect for a 14-day period, include a recommendation against permitting any events with big crowds. There will also be limits on capacity in bars and restaurants, which will have to close at 1.30am at the latest.

With reporting by Miquel Ormazábal

English version by Simon Hunter.

Have you heard our Spanish news podcast ¿Qué? Each week we try to explain the curious, the under-reported and sometimes simply bizarre news stories that are often in the headlines in Spain.

More information

You may also like

Most viewed in...

Top 50