Coronavirus COVID-19

Special Information Briefing COVID-19 (No. 2): State of Alarm

15/03/2020

In this Special Information Briefing we discuss the legal implications following the declaration of the State of Alarm.

The Royal Decree Law adopts a series of extraordinary measures to protect the health and safety of the general public, to limit the spread of the virus, and to reinforce the public health system.

State of alarm

On Saturday 14 March 2020, the declaration of the state of alarm was published in the Spanish Official Gazette1 (B.O.E.) as a response to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Royal Decree 463/2020, of 14 March, which has declared a state of alarm for the management of the health crisis caused by COVID-19 (the “RDEA”), has established a series of extraordinary measures to protect the health and safety of citizens, contain the spread of the disease and strengthen the public health system.

The approval of the RDEA entails that all the powers required to combat COVID-19 will be centralized in the Spanish Government, putting an end to the various and different decisions that were being taken by different Autonomous Communities to deal with the issue. Any prior decisions taken by the Autonomous Communities will now remain in force only if they are compatible with the RDEA.

The state of alarm as a state of emergency. Requirements for its declaration

In accordance with the Organic Law 4/1981, of 1 June, on the states of alarm, emergency and siege (the “LOEAES”), the Spanish Government may declare the state of alarm, emergency or siege when, due to extraordinary circumstances, it is impossible to preserve normal conditions by means of the ordinary powers granted to the relevant authorities.

The state of alarm is the least critical of the three states of emergency provided for in the Spanish Constitution. It can be declared, in all or part of the country, when there are serious disruptions to normal conditions such as (i) catastrophes, calamities or public disasters –i.e. earthquakes, floods, fires or major accidents–; (ii) health crises, such as epidemics or serious pollution situations; (iii) the breakdown of essential public services for the community; or (iv) shortages of basic necessities.

The entire content of the Information Briefing can be found in the PDF.

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