Rising COVID-19 cases push Spain's regions to call for tighter restrictions

·2-min read
Protest against the closure of bars and gyms amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid

Rising COVID-19 cases push Spain's regions to call for tighter restrictions

Protest against the closure of bars and gyms amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - The northern Spanish region of Castilla and Leon ordered a shutdown of bars and restaurants on Tuesday and demanded tougher measures from the national government to defeat one of Europe's worst outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Announcing the restrictions, which come into force on Nov. 6, regional leader Alfonso Fernandez Manueco described the situation as one of "maximum risk," adding that his administration favoured stricter measures but was stymied by Spain's current legal framework.

Under a six-month state of emergency declared last week, regional authorities have powers to declare curfews and shut down businesses, but they cannot impose home confinement without central government authorization.

"We demand that the Spanish government assumes its responsibility and, under parliamentary control, decrees the measures required by the situation," Fernandez said.

Unlike France, Germany and Britain, which have announced full nationwide lockdowns, Spain has adopted a regional response, leading to a patchwork of different regulations.

Castilla and Leon's announcement came a day after the northwestern Asturias region shut down bars and requested authorization for a home confinement but was rebuffed by the health ministry.

Wealthy Catalonia, home to top tourist destination Barcelona, has taken a hard-line approach, closing down eateries more than two weeks ago and restricting travel across its borders.

Meanwhile, Madrid's bars and restaurants, which are only obliged to keep to capacity limits and shut by 11 pm, were full of revellers over a long weekend marking All Saints Day.

Conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso has opted for lighter regulations and said on Tuesday that home confinement was a "last resort."

With 1.2 million cases, Spain has the second highest caseload in Western Europe after France. The death toll stands at 36,257.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)