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Spanish Government to decree State of Alarm: what is it and how long can I last?

Spanish Government to decree State of Alarm: what is it and how long can I last?
The Government of Spain is reportedly about to announce that it has decreed a state of emergency to deal with the coronavirus epidemic. This same measure was taken in 2010 to deal with an air traffic controllers crisis.

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The Organic Law of States of Alarm, Exceptions and Situations (La Ley Orgánica de Estados de Alarma, Excepción y Sitio) of June 1, 1981, contains the elements necessary to apply special measures in the autonomous communities or throughout the Spanish State in the face of health emergencies.

The Government must determine, through a decree agreed by the Council of Ministers, “the duration and effects of the state of alarm, which may not exceed fifteen days.” This section of “the effects” could include the suspension of any call for elections during a declaration of a state of alarm that can be deployed “in cases of epidemics” such as the one we face now with COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Extraordinary circumstances
In its first chapter, the law explains that “the declaration of states of alarm… will proceed when extraordinary circumstances make it impossible to maintain normality through the ordinary powers of the competent authorities.”

The declaration may affect all or part of the national territory and must be proclaimed by royal decree of the Council of Ministers, allowing the president of any autonomous community to implement it in their own territory.

Protection
This law, in article 9.1, contemplates that “all Civil Authorities” are left under the orders of the competent authority “of the Public Administration of each territory affected by the declaration, the members of the Police Forces of the Autonomous Communities and of the Local Corporations, and other officials and workers at the service of the same, will be under the direct orders of the competent Authority as necessary for the protection of people, goods and places, being able to impose extraordinary services on the basis of their duration or their nature.”

Measurements
The chain of measures to be adopted by the authorities are included in article 11 of the law and refer to:

a) Limits the movement or permanence of people or vehicles at specific times and places, or order them to fulfill certain requirements.

b) Practice temporary searches of all kinds of goods and impose mandatory personal benefits.

c) Intervene in and temporarily occupy industries, factories, workshops, farms or premises of any nature, with the exception of private homes, reporting to the Ministries concerned.

d) Limit or ration the use of services or the consumption of basic necessities.

e) Issue necessary orders to ensure the supply of the markets and the operation of the services of production centers affected by section d) of the fourth article.

Disobedience
The law, in article 10, details that “non-compliance or resistance to the orders of the competent authority during the state of alarm will be punished in accordance with the provisions of the laws.”

“Two. If these acts were committed by officials, the authorities may immediately suspend them in the exercise of their duties, passing, as the case may be, to the courts, and their hierarchical superior will be notified, for the purposes of the appropriate disciplinary action”.

“Three. If such acts were committed by members of the authorities, their powers, necessary for the fulfillment of the measures agreed upon in execution of the declaration of alarm status, may be assumed by the relevant and competent Authority during the period [the state of alarm is active].”

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