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Congress approves Spanish State of Alarm amid rumours of looming lockdown

The Spanish Government had asked for Congress to approve State of Alarm powers until May 9th but as the Congress Plenary session debated the measures it was eventually concluded a State of Alarm would be put into effect with a requirement that Pedro Sánchez must report on the status every two months in Parliament and an option to terminate the state on March 9th. The Minister of Health Salvador Illa is also required to attend to the Health Commission on a monthly basis to report the epidemiological progression of the virus.

A further amendment was approved to consider "enclave" territories in certain parts of the country are to follow the restrictions of the surrounding province.

This will mean Sánchez will not have to present any progress to Parliament until after the new year.

The Partido Popular lamented the measure as unlawful but did not want to be seen as endangering the health of the nation so opted to abstain on the vote. The representative of Foro Asturias and the Vox party were the only members to vote against. Vox have confirmed they will file an appeal to the Constitutional Court tomorrow (Friday 30th October) against the State of Alarm.

This new State of Alarm has now taken shape and has key differences to the previous state earlier in the year. The new state has been drafted to provide legal protection for the Executive and autonomous authorities to act for an extended period of time without the fortnightly political consideration of the legal powers. The power to implement curfews and border closures will rest with local authorities.

In Aragón the curfew remains in place from 23.00 to 06.00 at least until November 9th at which point the local autonomous authority will make the decision as to whether it remains in place.

The official State Bulletin confirming the full scope is yet to be published but it is our understanding that the power to declare a full nationwide lockdown is still reserved under the powers of the State of Alarm.

The spectre of a total lockdown is still very real, with medical group leaders insistent that a lockdown is the only option proven to slow the virus spread. José Martínez Olmos, the former general secretary of the Health Ministry stating "it will be difficult to avoid confinement with the figures in the regions". Florentino Pérez Raya, President of the General Nursing Council also is clear in his thoughts on the only course of action to curb contagion is a "strict confinement order for 14 days". The message is clear from medical leaders. In their opinion a confinement is the only route considered proven to achieve "success". Such decisions have already been announced in Ireland, France and Germany. With many other countries across Europe imposing curfews or tiered zonal systems of restrictions, many believe it is only a matter of time before Europe is plunged into a second era of lockdown.

The policy is gathering more critics and increasing anger as huge swathes of the European population reach desperation and bitter recriminations are increasingly exchanged over the efficacy of the strategy.


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