Coronavirus: Spain urges accountability as parties mark end of curfew, Europe News & Top Stories
MADRID (AFP) – The Spanish government on Monday (May 10) called for “accountability”, insisting that health restrictions were still in place after weekend footage showed people celebrating the end of the state of emergency without mask or social distancing.
“The end of the state of emergency does not mean the end of the restrictions. Far from it. The viral threat still exists,” wrote Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo in an opinion piece in the daily El Pais .
“That is why the authorities will continue to act and the public must continue to behave responsibly.”
After more than six months of curfew and a travel ban between the 17 regions of Spain under the state of emergency imposed at the end of October, the Spaniards were granted new freedoms when the measure expired in the early hours of Sunday.
With the deadline passed, crowds of revelers took to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and other cities, many not wearing masks or social distancing. The images were projected on the front pages of Monday, sparking much debate.
Asked about the images during an official visit to Greece, Spanish Prime Minister Padeo Sanchez warned against “lowering your guard”.
“Vaccination is progressing well, with very positive results” but “the virus continues to circulate and we have to maintain barriers,” he said.
With nearly 79,000 deaths and more than 3.5 million infections, Spain has been hit hard by the pandemic and the images have sparked a backlash against Sanchez’s left-wing government.
“Sanchez is solely responsible for these rallies,” angered opposition leader Pablo Casado, who heads the right-wing Popular Party, accusing the government of not having a backup plan after the restrictions end.
“With Sanchez, we went from a state of emergency to a state of chaos.”
Although right-wing leaders in the Madrid region have repeatedly refused to impose strict restrictions on the local economy, leaving bars and restaurants open even when cases of the virus were high, they were quick to to turn to Sanchez.
“Freedom does not consist in organizing drinking parties in the street”, reprimanded the mayor of the PP of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez Almeida.
“The central government was just not prepared,” grumbled Juan Manuel Moreno, another PP leader who runs the southern region of Andalusia, demanding “effective tools” and interregional coordination to manage the health crisis. public.
Despite the outcry, the administration in Madrid – where hardline Isabel Diaz Ayuso was re-elected last week following a landslide – blamed the party on a handful of disbelievers.
“We cannot lock up seven million people because of a few hundred young people,” said Enrique Lopez, the region’s top justice official.
A regional lottery?
In his editorial, the Minister of Justice insisted that there were enough provisions in the law “to manage the pandemic in its current state”, noting that 28 percent of the population had already received a first dose. vaccine.
Regions can still limit the opening hours of shops, bars and restaurants as well as their capacity, but if they want to reimpose a curfew or close regional borders, they will need court approval.
In tourist hotspots such as the Balearic Islands or the region of eastern Valencia, regional authorities have already received court approval to keep their curfew in place.
On the other hand, in the Canary Islands and in the north of the Basque Country, the courts overturned a request to maintain the curfew.
The Canary Islands have said they will appeal the ruling to Spain’s Supreme Court, a measure the government has put in place to support regional authorities whose claims are stopped locally.
And in such cases, Spain’s highest court will act “to unify the criteria used to ratify or deny health measures,” Campos wrote.
“If there is a disparity in criteria, it should be our supreme court that sets the common standard for the whole country.”