BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that a strict stay-at-home lockdown order the Spanish government issued under a state of emergency during the first wave of COVID-19 last year was unconstitutional.
While upholding most terms of the state of emergency, the court said provisions ordering the population off the streets except for shorts shopping trips, unavoidable work commutes and other essential business violated Spain’s Constitution.
The court issued a brief statement that described the ruling as a split decision. State broadcaster TVE said six magistrates were in favor and five against. The full decision is expected to be released in the coming days.
According to TVE, the court majority ruled that the limitations on movement violated citizens’ basic rights and the state of emergency was a constitutionally insufficient mechanism to do that. The six magistrates said a state of exception, which does allow the government to suspend basic rights, would have been necessary.
Justice Minister Pilar Llop said that her government “will uphold but does not share the decision” on the inadequacy of the emergency declaration “that saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”
“The home confinement rule declared under the state of emergency, along with the exemplary behavior of citizens, allowed us to stop the virus,” Llop said, adding that it was similar to orders given by other European governments.
The Constitutional Court made its ruling in response to a lawsuit brought by Spain’s far-right Vox party. Vox leader Santiago Abascal called Wednesday for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to step down.
“We cannot celebrate the decision because we have proof that the government was willing to break the law and tarnish the constitution,” Abascal said.