2. Ratification of the regional goverment's order “for the containment of the epidemic outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic" in the towns of Lérida, Alcarrás, La Granja d'Escarp, Massalcoreig, Serós, Soses, Torres de Segre, Sucs and Raimat was sought last night at the duty court.
3. Catalan government wrote in the new order that “despite the measures taken” the previous week, with the initial order, which was ratified, “the epidemiological situation [...] continues to show an increase the number of daily infections”.
4. The new lockdown, in theory, came into effect last night at midnight. What is Torra going to do now? Will Sánchez have to act? What situation have the citizens of Lérida and the surrounding area been left in? Can they go about their normal lives or are they locked down?
6. The measures in the new lockdown order, announced by the regional government in Catalonia yesterday, included, among others, the restriction of personal movements (everyone go home) and the restriction of social contacts (“people you normally live with”).
8. The judge starts with the State of Alarm, Exception and Siege Act of 1981: the national government may declare the state of alarm, says Article 4, and the First Minister of a Spanish region may if he needs to request the government do so, according to Article 5.
9. Judge also cites Article 54 of the 2011 General Public Health Act: authorities, including regional authorities, “may take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the law” if there is an exceptional, grave or urgent situation.
10. Such measures require, in theory, “after hearing the persons concerned” and the judge highlights in bold the phrase “the measures taken must, in any event, respect the principle of proportionality”.
11. Judge then spends several pages quoting several relevant laws, including the Public Health Act 2009, and stresses again in bold that “the measure must be proportional to the aims pursued and the situation that motivates it”.
12. The judge argues that “according to the figures supplied” by the regional government, the ordered lockdown measure is “not proportional”. What figures? How is the coronavirus pandemic really going in Lérida and the Lower Segre area?
13. Friday's Health Ministry pdf says there is a cumulative incidence rate across Catalonia of 19.58 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over 7 days. The judge notes that the equivalent rate in the specific case of Segrià has risen from 149 last week to...187.8.
14. The judge says that the Catalan government has introduced a new sub-block of data for the Lower Segre area, “pointing out that the incidence rate is 216.3 per 100,000 inhabitants” but that they have not provided prior data to compare the evolution. Again, data matters.
15. The information provided by the Catalan govt on outbreaks is not accurate, says the judge. They mix companies and towns. They do not specify towns. If they have the outbreaks under control and identified, what need is there to order a general lockdown?
16. Catalan govenrment has not provided data illustrating “the existence of a grave and very large community transmission of the virus”, says the judge, which would justify the “very serious restriction and limitation of rights”. “They don't give us any more information"
17. Catalan government has not done enough homework to order a total lockdown in the Lower Segre area, says the judge. The measures “not only are not proportional but are based on generic data and expressions”. They could order individual home confinement.
19. What the Catalan government is proposing in the Lower Segre area is not “a simple limitation of movements”, which could be done with the 1986 Act, but rather “seriously affects” rights protected by the Spanish Constitution itself.
21. Catalan govt has copied and pasted March state of alarm decree, says the judge, but without setting any time limitation, so even more serious, and Torra seeks to “circumvent the application of the partial state of alarm” provided for by the 1981 Act which protects rights.
22. Judge concludes, as prosecutor did last night, that “this is a state responsibility and is exercised, moreover, with the guarantee of the intervention of parliament”. The path, she points out to Torra, is to ask the government to declare another state of alarm.
23. This ruling creates problems for: i) the immediate plan to try to control coronavirus, ii) the always ongoing separatist-Spanish state debate, iii) Sanchez's general plan to leave the management of the pandemic to the regions throughout Spain.
24. Having followed the issue of coronavirus data since February so closely, the judge raises a fascinating point. If Catalan govt had done its homework better, would data have shown that there is imminent, real danger or that it does not exist and this is an overreaction?
25. In essence, the judge has asked the Catalan government for two things: more data and precision about the reality of the situation in Lérida and the Lower Segre area, and more proportionality and correct action in the measures to be taken, according to the law.
27. Torra announces that his Catalan government will pass a regional decree “in the next few hours” that will allow them, according to him, to continue with the new lockdown in the Lower Segre area. That wasn't among the options the judge mentioned in her ruling.
28. “No one should play politics or fight about turf with healthcare” says Aragonés (Deputy FM), after announcing with Torra that instead of asking for a new state of alarm or providing more precise information, they will try to pass express regional decree to achieve their goal.
29. Torra is asked what citizens in the Lower Segre area should do this morning.
“Follow the recommendations of the Catalan government”, he replies, “without any doubt”.
Follow Torra, not the law, says Torra.
31. Regional high court in Catalonia confirms that the judge not signing off on the new lockdown order means that it currently has no effect. It is not applicable to the citizens of Lérida and nearby towns at this time. They are free.
30. Will a a regional decree (Torra's answer) ever be able to win against the Constitution and the 1981 State of Alarm Act (the judge's argument)? Is it wasting time while coronavirus spreads? If we go down that path, do we end up in Spain with 17 regional coronavirus laws?
32. Chief Public Prosecutor in Lérida, Juan F Bone, tells me regarding Torra's new lockdown plan that: “There cannot be a decree if it touches on fundamental rights. The regulation would again be illegal and could be challenged before the Constitutional Court”.
35. Mayor of Barcelona, Colau, has said they have registered 458 Covid cases in that city in one week, with 24 “small” but “fully controlled” outbreaks: “we have almost tripled new infections” in seven days.
39. 7- and 14-day case totals have rocketed up in Health Ministry figures since Friday:
- 7-day total: +989 cases
- 14-day total: +1,139
- total cases: +2,045
- symptoms 7 days: +153
- symptoms 14 days: +352
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