Unease as Spain set to exit virus state of emergency

8 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

MADRID: Spain is poised for a surge in internal travel after a national state of emergency ends on Sunday, a move regional governments fear weakens their hand in the fight against the pandemic.

Declared in October as Covid-19 infections surged, the emergency decree has provided regional authorities -- which are in charge of health care -- a legal framework to enforce nighttime curfews and other restrictions including a ban on non essential travel between regions.

But once the emergency situation ends on Sunday, regional governments will need local court approval to impose restrictions on social life such as caps on the size of home gatherings, reports AFP.

As the end of the state of emergency nears, authorities are rushing to prepare rules to keep certain restrictions in place, including limiting bar and restaurant hours.

The Balearic islands, which includes tourism hotspot Ibiza, on Thursday received court approval to limit the size of private gatherings to six people and keep its nighttime curfew in place.

Several other regions have said they will ask the courts to extend nighttime curfews but so far none have indicated they will seek to extend their ban on inter-regional travel.

That means Spaniards will be able to travel to holiday homes or to visit far-off relatives for the first time in months.

State-owned rail operator Renfe says ticket sales for next week are up 13 percent over the last week.

"I am really keen to get out of Madrid," said Alicia Carbajosa, a 47-year-old civil servant, who plans to visit her family soon in the southern region of Andalusia for the first time this year.