Spanish govt returns fines for breaking virus lockdown rules
MADRID (AP) — All Spanish citizens who paid fines during a nearly three-month state of emergency declared last year to slow the spread of the coronavirus will be remunerated, the country’s Ministry of Territorial Affairs said on Friday.
The move follows a ruling by Spain’s top court earlier this year that declared as unconstitutional the country’s first state of emergency, which sent all but essential citizens to their homes and paralyzed much of the economy between March 14 and June 21. As cases spiked again, central authorities declared another state of emergency from the end of October last year to May this year.
The Interior Ministry said that police had meted out 1.1 million fines to citizens who defied the stay-at-home order and other restrictions, although not all of them had been immediately paid.
Spain has reached nearly 5 million coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. At least 87,000 recorded deaths have been related to COVID-19.
The 14-day caseload, a variable closely watched by experts and policymakers, is down to 43 new cases per 100,000 residents, the lowest level since July last year. Spain has fully vaccinated 78% of those who are eligible to receive it.