The Constitutional Court has ruled that Spain’s first Covid-19 lockdown was unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court in Madrid has ruled that a state of alarm, which included a strict home confinement and extensive travel restrictions to combat the first wave of Covid last year, was unconstitutional.
Introduced in March 2020, the state of alarm allowed the government to temporarily suspend civil liberties, confining almost all Spaniards to their homes, shutting schools, businesses and industries.
By a margin of just one vote, the court ruled on July 14 that the move was unconstitutional. As a result, all fines incurred for breaking the rules of the alarm will be dropped although the court was careful to limit any exposure the government might face to compensation claims.
“Citizens have a legal duty to bear the material damages they suffered,” the court’s resolution stated.
The court also argued that to enact the measures they did, the government should have introduced a state of emergency, which has more sweeping powers than a state of alarm. However, the state of emergency poses a severe threat to freedoms allowing police to detain people for up to 10 days instead of three, enter homes and business premises by force, and to shut media outlets.
The case was brought to the court by Vox, who are claiming the ruling as a major victory.
“The largest violation of rights in history was unconstitutional. Only Vox voted against. Only Vox appealed to the Constitutional Court to defend the rights and freedoms of the Spanish,” tweeted Vox’s leader Santiago Abascal.
The General Secretary of the Partido Popular (PP), Teodoro Garcia Egea, also said his party had warned the state of alarm was on thin legal ground.
“Pablo Casado warned it and the Constitutional Court confirms it. The state of alarm was unconstitutional and the autonomous communities do not know what to apply now to fight against the virus. The legal response to the pandemic has been a complete failure for the Government,” he tweeted.
The PP however voted in favour of the state alarm and refused to join Vox in bringing the case to the Constitutional Court.
The government, which has yet to formally respond to the ruling, is livid at the outcome, according to Spanish media reports.
Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to check The Euro Weekly News for all your up-to-date local and international news stories.