Spain

Catalonia’s Government Orders Coronavirus Lockdown, Bypassing Judge’s Ruling

Spain’s Catalonia regional government pushed ahead Tuesday with new coronavirus confinement orders for Lleida, a province west of Barcelona, a day after a judge ruled such orders to be unlawful.

If approved by another judge, the restrictions would permit Lleida’s residents to leave their homes only for activities like working, buying groceries or exercising, and ban gatherings of more than 10 people. The new orders would begin Wednesday and last 15 days.

Similar measures were to have taken effect earlier, but a judge struck them down Monday, saying such restrictions exceeded regional government powers.

Migrants who are seeking seasonal work harvest fruits stand in a square in Lleida, Spain, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Authorities…
FILE – Migrants who are seeking seasonal work stand in a square in Lleida, Spain, July 2, 2020.

“What is proposed today goes far beyond a simple limitation of movement and seriously affects constitutionally recognized rights,” Judge Elena Garcia-Munoz Alarcos said.

Quim Torra, president of Catalonia, stood firm and refused to accept the ruling.

“We cannot understand that there are bureaucratic obstacles in decisions that are taken for the health and life of citizens,” Torra told a news conference. “It’s a luxury to lose time with legal resolutions. We cannot allow this.”

The regional government approved a decree Monday giving it legal backing to enact coronavirus lockdown measures, resulting in Tuesday’s confinement orders.

The mixed messages between the judge and the regional government have caused confusion among Lleida’s 160,000 residents, with the city’s mayor, Miquel Pueyo, being unsure as to whether to tell people to stay at home or uphold the judge’s decision.

Regardless of the outcome, Lleida’s residents will still be prohibited from leaving the region, as per a travel ban implemented July 4. Everyone in Catalonia is also held to a compulsory mask-wearing mandate put in place in early July. Violations result in a $114 fine.

As of Tuesday, Spain had the highest number of coronavirus cases in the European Union, with 65,086 in Catalonia alone, and nearly 256,000 in Spain overall.

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