Spain’s health minister rejects second round-the-clock curfew


Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa Monday rejected calls for a return to a strict round-the-clock curfew, like the one seen earlier this year, saying it would not be a necessary step to contain the country’s surging coronavirus caseload.

Spain has already tightened rules on social contacts and imposed night-time curfews in many regions.

Stricter restrictions are not currently planned, Illa said in comments carried by the El Pais and La Vanguardia newspapers, adding that authorities will first assess the affect of the measures already in place.

Illa’s comments follow an appeal by the regional head of government in the north-western Asturias region for a stricter curfew, as the health system there comes close to being dangerously overwhelmed.

A regional government does not have the power to impose stricter restrictions, only parliament. Spain has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

On Thursday, parliament approved the extension of a nationwide state of alarm – the third-highest state of emergency – until at least May 9.

However, Illa has said that the state of alarm in the form passed by parliament does not allow curfews, during which people are only allowed to leave their homes for urgent reasons. Parliament would need to approve any corresponding change.

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