The Basque Country borders all its municipalities and limits travel to the municipal area. In addition, it maintains a curfew between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and meetings in public and private spaces may be a maximum of six people. This was announced this Monday by the Minister of Health, Gotzone Sagardui, after a meeting of the technical commission of the health emergency (the LABI) that has lasted for more than three hours and has followed other meetings that began at 8: 00.
The coronavirus crisis: maps and graphs of its expansion in the Basque Country
Mobility between neighboring municipalities, as explained by Sagardui, will only be allowed for work, health, educational, caring for other people or other causes of force majeure. They are the same reasons that justify the circulation on the roads or spaces of public use between 23:00 and 6:00, the hours that have been set for the night curfew.
Legal labyrinth until reaching the state of alarm
Euskadi, to a certain extent, is the origin of the operation that has led the Government of Pedro Sánchez to decree this Sunday a state of alarm for all of Spain until May 9. On Saturday 17, when the pandemic was already showing signs of rising again, the Basque Minister of Health, Gotzone Sagardui, presented a package of measures among which stood out limiting meetings to a maximum of six people. It did not enter into force on that date, as it was sent for ratification to the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV). Although already in August, after a “informal consultation” with the contentious-administrative chamber, limiting groups to ten people it remained a recommendation and not an obligation, the Government of Iñigo Urkullu was convinced that it would have the judicial approval. But it was not like that and the scene changed from the root.
The contentious-administrative chamber, on Thursday, clearly told the Basque Government two things. One, that constitutional rights such as mobility or freedom of assembly can only be limited by organic law – special majority rules that can only come out of the Cortes Generales – and, two, that the organic law of 1986 with general proposals on public health it wasn’t guaranteed enough to do so. The Basque Executive (a coalition of PNV and PSE-EE) understood the message: it was opening “a framework that intends to close doors to any measure that does not go through the prior decision to declare the state of alarm.”
On the same Thursday night, the health emergency crisis table (LABI) made the toughest measures a recommendation – confinements of municipalities with high incidence and meetings of only six people – but with the awareness that this was insufficient due to the increasingly high numbers of contagions registered in the Basque Country. This week the pandemic has grown by 49% compared to the previous one. Thus, on Friday Urkullu made a virtue of necessity and after having been one of the leaders most critical of the state of alarm during the first wave – to the point of always referring to the situation as a health emergency – led the regional requests to Sánchez. Its condition: that the central government delegate the regulation and management of the measures to the regional presidents. Accepting this point, and in the absence of the details of the decree in the Official State Gazette, the Basque Country trusts in being able to act with legal certainty and speed.