Legal battle over Castilla y León’s curfew

Last Saturday 16thof January, the region of Castilla y León changed its curfew hours, changing its start time from 10pm to 8pm in order to combat the recent increase in Covid-19 cases following the Christmas festivities. The legality of the move is under review as it defies the rules set in the announcement of the national state of alarm, and the central government is currently pursuing legal action against it.

Possibilities for curfew hours are set by the national government, which decides what tools the regions work with. In this case, the 8pm curfew does not obey what it has defined as valid starting hours: the starting time must be between 10pm and midnight. 

The decision to set the starting hour of the curfew at 8pm came as Christmas get-togethers made the number of new cases skyrocket to numbers much higher than during the first and second waves. The region is currently on level 4 alert, the highest level. It is closed off from other regions and the mobility between its provinces is highly restricted. The maximum number of people allowed to meet has been lowered to 4. The measures will be reviewed every two weeks to adapt them to the current situation. 

They might also become more restrictive if the numbers do not show a positive trend by the end of this month: Francisco Igea, the vice-president of the region, told the press last week that “if the measures do not give results in the next 15 days, a confinement will be inevitable”. The central government is opposed to such a measure, but the region argues that a short and efficient confinement would be the best way to halt the spread of the virus.

The central government is pursuing legal action against the Castilla y León’s curfew, using the regulation as backing. The regional government defends its decision by highlighting the dire situation and arguing that the regions have the possibility to be flexible in the ways they choose to fight the virus. The regional health advisor, Verónica Casado, told laSexta on Saturday that the measures permitted by the national government are insufficient to fight the virus effectively. The case is still under review, but the region will keep enforcing the curfew from 8pm until the national supreme court comes to a verdict. 

The public was already divided when the curfew was first set at 10pm, as some protests against the curfew showed. Workers from the hospitality sector were opposed to the curfew as their earnings were very negatively impacted by such measures. The change to 8pm has also been frustrating for some. As a worker at a bar on Plaza Mayor in Segovia states, “we understand that the situation is grave, but this curfew is too much. I just hope it will be over soon”.

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