Spain’s top court rules pandemic lockdown unconstitutional

MADRID — Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that last year’s strict stay-at-home lockdown order by the government under a state of emergency was unconstitutional.

The court ruling was in response to a suit brought by the far-right Vox party.

It was a split decision according to a brief statement issued by the court. State broadcaster TVE says it was six magistrates in favor and five against.

While leaving intact most of the state of emergency’s terms, the court said that the key articles ordering the population off the streets except for shorts trips for shopping and unavoidable commutes for work and other official business were unconstitutional.

According to TVE, the ruling said that the limitations on movement violated citizens’ basic rights and therefore the state of emergency was insufficient to give them constitutional backing. The six magistrates said that a state of exception, which does allow the government to suspend basic rights, would have been necessary.

With the pandemic raging and hospitals filling up, Spain’s government declared the state of emergency on March 14, 2020. Six weeks passed before Spaniards could even go out for exercise as the government gradually relaxed the measures once the pandemic’s worst moment had passed.

It was not immediately clear if the ruling will open the gates for lawsuits against the government.

Over 81,000 deaths in Spain have been attributed to COVID-19.

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