SPAIN today declared a second state of emergency following a peak in coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the measure, which could last up to six months, with the aim of tackling the surge in Covid-19 infections.
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The state of emergency, which came into force on Sunday evening, will force all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a nighttime curfew and limit the number of people allowed to meet to six.
It will initially last two weeks, but Mr Sanchez has called on parliament to approve its extension until May 9.
The measure will have to be approved by Parliament to last for more than 15 days.
“We are living in an extreme situation … it is the most serious health crisis of the last century,” Sanchez said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.
Spain’s prime minister said travel between regions would be banned under the new state of emergency rules.
Regions will be allowed to impose curfews between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., with one hour of flexibility in either direction.
Catalonia was one of the first regions on Sunday to use the new legislation to impose a curfew, which began at 10 p.m.
Under the restrictions, establishments open to the public will have to close at 9 p.m.
Mr Sanchez called on people to stay at home as much as possible in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
He said: “The longer we stay at home and the less contact we have, the more we will be protected and the more we will be able to protect our loved ones and the health of all. ”
Spain was hit hard in the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year and imposed a much more restrictive lockdown.
But like many other European countries, it is now facing a second wave of coronavirus.
“The second wave is no longer a threat, it is a reality,” Spanish Minister of Health Salvador Illa said Tuesday at a press conference in Madrid.
The first state of emergency in Spain was declared in March and was lifted in June after the infection rate fell.
Madrid also introduced a two-week state of emergency earlier this month, which lasted until last Saturday after the Spanish capital became a hotspot for coronavirus infections.
Today Mr Sanchez announced nationwide restrictions that apply to all regions except the Canary Islands in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The state of emergency makes it easier for the authorities to take rapid action.
Canaries vice-president Roman Rodriguez tweeted he was “happy” that the tourist hotspot had been banned from curfew, but urged people not to let their guard down.
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Spain became the first country in Western Europe to record more than one million Covid infections last week.
According to the latest data, Spain has registered 1,110,372 cases of Covid-19.
The death toll from coronaviruses in the country currently stands at 34,752.