We need curfew now, Spanish regions say as nationwide decision delayed

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop, as some Spanish provinces are allowed to ease lockdown restrictions during phase one, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Valencia, Spain May 19, 2020. REUTERS
The Spanish regions of Castilla and Leon and Valencia were clamouring on Friday for the government to impose night-time curfews after authorities failed to reach a decision on nationwide restrictions the previous day. "We want this to happen today if possible, rather than tomorrow" said Alfonso Fernandez Manueco, the regional leader of Castilla and Leon, which formally requested a curfew on Thursday.

"The virus doesn't understand administrative boundaries or different political stripes," he told a joint news conference with Health Minister Salvador Illa.

Spain's regions have a high degree of autonomy and are largely responsible for responding to the pandemic but restrictions on freedom of movement, like curfews, require the national government's intervention.

The central government is actually also in favour of curfews, but postponed a decision after the Madrid region and the Basque country opposed such a move on Thursday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to make a televised address to the nation at around 1100 GMT to speak about the pandemic.