A Spanish judge has blocked the Catalan regional government’s order to require home confinement as a way to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the provincial capital of Lleida and 7 nearby towns.
The ruling, which came late Sunday, explained that the confinement was part of the state's jurisdiction, and not the regional government's. It added that the president of Catalonia "could ask the (Spanish) Government to declare a state of alarm."
The judge, an investigating magistrate in Lleida, noted that the state prosecutor had opposed the implementation of the Catalan government’s stay-at-home order.
Any measures adopted should respect the principle of proportionality," said the ruling, which can still be appealed to the Superior Court of Catalonia.
The measure would have confined 156,000 people to their homes, with few exceptions, after Segría county -- including Lleida city -- tallied 1,438 new cases of Covid-19. The cases have all been recorded since June 21, when Spain's state of emergency ended following three months of nationwide confinement.
A week ago, Catalonia ordered Segría's 200,000 residents to stay inside the county, which is a two-hour drive from Barcelona. But as the outbreak kept spreading, authorities issued a home confinement order for the majority of people.
Lleida's Mayor, Miquel Pueyo, warned in a statement that home confinement would have "a huge economic and emotional impact on the territory," and asked the Catalan government to "guarantee the salaries of the workers from outside Lleida who for 15 days wouldn't be able to come to work in Lleida" because of the confinement order.