Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Spain has placed 160,000 citizens back into lockdown after the High Court overturned a lower court ban on tough new restrictions on movement because of a new coronavirus outbreak, apparently caused in part by the arrival of fruit pickers.
The lockdown is to happen in the Catalonia region, where the Catalonian Government in the Spanish autonomous community in north-eastern Spain has placed thousands of residents back into coronavirus lockdown in eight municipalities, using powers granted in a controversial decree made to stop the virus spreading still further.
The new strict lockdown came into effect at midnight last night (Tuesday to Wednesday).
The move comes after the judge in the Lleida area of Catalan, Elena Garcia Munoz, had earlier rejected the local government order a few hours after it was announced on Sunday (12th July).
But the Catalan Government rejected the judge’s ruling that the measure was disproportionate and have confirmed in a statement that the decree, which would see the “adoption of urgent measures to deal with the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks,” has now been approved after a further legal challenge.
They said the decree allows the health authority to “take measures to limit the activity and movement of people and the provision of services in certain territorial areas” in pandemics, adding: “The adoption of these measures aims to ensure the control of infections and protect people’s health”.
The High Court of Justice of Catalonia also confirmed the news on their official Twitter account today (Wednesday) writing: “The court of Lleida ratifies, for a period of 15 days, the measures agreed by the health authority for Lleida city, six municipalities and two decentralised entities, and requests specific information about the pandemic. We do not ratify the measures for the municipality of Massalcoreig.”
The municipality of Massalcoreig was not included in the lockdown despite initially being on the list as the judge at the High Court found the number of cases there was much lower, and the Mayor of the town, Montserrat Jove, said that there had only been “three positives” there, which all from the same family, and where all three are now out of isolation
According to the Catalonian government, the municipalities of Lleida, Alcarras, Aitona, Seros, Soses, La Granja d’Escarp, Torres de Segre and the decentralised municipal entities of Sucs and Raimat in the Catalonian comarca of Segria have all now been placed in lockdown.
Around 160,000 people live in the comarca of Segria which has been affected by the lockdown.
The Civil Protection department of the Catalan Government confirmed on Twitter that local residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for necessary activities including going to work or taking care of the elderly. They are also going to be prevented from travelling to and from other municipalities.
The new safety measures will last for 15 days, according to the Catalonian government.
There have been at least 1,500 cases of coronavirus in the comarca of Segria after an outbreak which started on Saturday 4th July according to local health officials.
The source of the outbreak is believed to be linked to agricultural companies, given that it is the fruit-picking season in the area.
Four outbreaks were linked to fruit companies, one to an agro-food company, and the rest involving an old people’s home, a neighbourhood community project and a hostel containing homeless people.
The autonomous community of Catalonia has seen a significant rise in the number of cases of coronavirus with 816 new cases reported on Sunday (12th July), the highest number seen since the end of the state of alarm in Spain.
According to the Catalonian Government’s Health and Families Ministry, there have been 3,447 cases of COVID-19 with 139 related deaths in the comarca of Segria.
According to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University, there have been 256,619 cases of COVID-19 in Spain and 28,409 related deaths.
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