Spain considers state of emergency for virus-hit Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is holding a Cabinet meeting to consider declaring a state of emergency for Madrid in order to impose stronger anti-virus restrictions on reluctant regional authorities

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is holding an emergency Cabinet meeting on Friday morning to consider declaring a state of emergency for Madrid and its surrounding region in order to impose stronger anti-virus restrictions on the reluctant regional governors.

The meeting comes a day after a Madrid court struck down a national government order that imposed a partial lockdown in the Spanish capital and its suburbs. The ruling sided with regional officials who had appealed the application of stricter measures against one of Europe’s most worrying virus clusters.

The national government said late Thursday night that Sánchez had spoken by telephone with Madrid regional chief Isabel Díaz Ayuso and gave her an ultimatum. Sánchez told Ayuso that if she did not quickly tighten measures or make a formal request for his national government to declare a state of emergency, then his government would go ahead and declare it anyway.

A state of emergency gives the national government extraordinary powers in time of crises to temporarily limit the constitutional rights of citizens. In this case, it would limit their freedom of movement by restarting perimeter controls on Madrid and some nearby towns also suffering from high contagion rates.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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