by Rose Maramba



  • The State of Alarm (Estado de Alarma) in Spain came into effect on Sunday, 15 March 2020.
  • Duration: 15 days. When necessary, and with Congress’ authorization, the period could be extended.
  • Geographic coverage: the entire Spanish territory.

    Meeting of the Extraordinary Council of Ministers presided by Prime Minister Sanchez, center, during which the State of Alarm is decreed. Note social distance between the ministers. Moncloa Palace, 14 March 2020.

  • Reason: To deal with the alarming health situation (COVID-19 pandemic) caused by the coronavirus. The State of Alarm was announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez following a 66% increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in just one day (13 March), from 3146 to 5232.
    The “extraordinary decision” is the result of the “health, social, and economic crisis” brought about by the pandemic, says the Prime Minister.
  • As of today, Spain is next to Italy in terms of the number of new contagion, and fourth in the pandemic, next to China, Italy and Iran.
  • Who is in charge? For the duration of the State of Alarm, the Central Government is fully in charge.
    The State of Alarm is implemented per Article 116.2 of the Spanish Constitution: A state of alarm shall be proclaimed by the Government, by means of a decree agreed in Council of Ministers, for a maximum period of fifteen days. The Congress shall be informed and must meet immediately, and without its authorization the said period may not be extended. The decree shall specify the territory to which the effects of the proclamation apply.
    National security forces (Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil), and the local and regional forces (Mossos d’Esquadra, Policia Foral de Navarra, etc.) which in normal times are subject to the local and regional governments, will be under the command of Minister of Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
    The Military Emergency Unit of the Spanish Armed Forces, under the Ministry of Defense, forms part of the enforcement force.


Bars and restaurants are closed.

  • Everyone is ordered to stay home. Leaving one’s usual place of residence is strictly prohibited. Also traveling on public roads and streets.
  • Temporary closure of restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, non-essential shops and retail businesses, learning centers (schools, universities, academies . . .).
  • Postponement or cancellati0n of fiestas, Holy Week processions, sporting and other events that draw large crowds.
  • Limitation on attendance at religious and civil ceremonies, (weddings, Mass, wakes and the like).
  • Prohibition of social gatherings such as parties and visits with friends and families.
  • Home service only for hairdressers.
  • Closing up of Spanish borders.
  • Checkpoints set up to see that the lockdown rules are followed.


  • To leave home to go to work; assist the elderly, minors, and other vulnerable members of society is permitted; refueling at gasoline stations.
  • Home delivery by shut-down restaurants and like establishments.
  • Shops for foodstuff, pharmaceuticals and other essential items will remain open. Also tobacconists, newsstands, banks, Post Office (9:30 – 12:30).

Hefty fines.


  • Violation of the lockdown rules is punishable with fines from €100 to €30,000, and/or imprisonment.


  • The health situation is dynamic and lockdown rules will be be constantly adapted to new developments.


  • Political parties of practically all persuasions are rallying behind the Central Government of Spain. So are the business sector and the labor unions.
  • Aid and stimulus packages are in the works to help those in economic-financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.


Featured image (a man’s silhouette)/Toa Heftiba, Unsplash. Woman wearing surgical mask/Yasser Alghofily, CC BY2.0
Stack of metal chairs/Javier A. Bedrina, CC BY-ND2.0
Extraordinary Council of Ministers/Pool Moncloa-JM Cuadrado
Euro notes/Jope, CC BY-ND2.0