Spain To Institute Nationwide Lockdown Over Coronavirus, Ordering All People To Stay Home

A man looks into an empty store in Madrid.
David Ramos / Getty Images

On Saturday, the Spanish government announced that it was declaring a state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus. The government instituted a nationwide lockdown, which included ordering people to stay at home unless they were going to buy food or medicine.

As the Guardian reported, Spain’s government is currently meeting to discuss the exact measures that will accompany the state of emergency. It’s worth noting that the government would have vast powers to limit the movement of people, along with the ability to temporarily take over factories and businesses to control and ration resources. Under the emergency declaration, the only businesses that can remain open are supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, tobacconists, newspaper kiosks, and food stores — including bakeries and butcher shops.

The closures went into effect this weekend, and the New York Post reported that residents in Madrid and Catalonia woke up to empty streets.

According to the Guardian, the measure restricting travel was set to take effect on Monday. It comes after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s was criticized for a slow response to the spread of the coronavirus, lagging behind other neighboring countries that instituted strict rules about public gatherings.

The government also announced that it would soon be laying out the exact measures to be included in the emergency declaration.

The Spanish government released a statement, saying, “It’s important to underline that the state-of-emergency decree that will be approved – and which is currently the subject of a cabinet meeting – is the one that the prime minister will present to the public.”

As the New York Post reported, Spain has become a hotspot for the coronavirus.

On Saturday, 1,500 new cases were reported — with half of those coming from the city of Madrid. The large increase in diagnosed cases brought Spain into the top five countries worldwide for the number of new cases — joining China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea.

After the virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, it has since begun spreading rapidly throughout Europe. This week, the World Health Organization reported that Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic.

Other countries have joined Spain in enacting strict measures, hoping to contain the virus by taking extra precautions. The Czech Republic government closed most of its stores and restaurants for 10 days, despite just 141 cases being reported in the country. In New Zealand, where only six cases have been reported thus far, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered everyone in the country to self-isolate starting after midnight on Sunday.