A woman rides a scooter past a closed hotel at Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter), after Catalonia's government imposed new restrictions in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Barcelona. | NACHO DOCE


Spanish regions are urging the central government to take measures that would give them legal backing to impose curfews as the country battles a resurgent coronavirus epidemic.

As of Saturday, 10 of Spain's 17 regions, including Valencia, Asturias, Castilla-La Mancha and the Basque Country, had called on the government to decree a state of emergency, which would allow regions to limit people's movement.

Regions expect the government to call an extraordinary Council of Ministers on Sunday to approve the measure, Spanish media including El Pais reported.

While many regions favour some form of curfew, the powerful Madrid region opposes it, which has so far prevented a nationwide decision.

Spain has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Western Europe. Total cases rose to 1,046,132 on Friday, while the death toll is nearing 38,000.

Catalonia said on Friday night it would impose a curfew across the region, which includes Barcelona, as soon as the central government acted.

"We need a decentralised state of emergency in which the Catalan government maintains all management capacity," deputy Catalan leader Pere Aragones told a press conference.

"The evolution is very worrying. Either we increase our efforts or COVID-19 increases," he said.

Some regions are considering imposing curfews by alternative means, such as going through regional courts, if the central government does not act.

"We cannot wait any longer and we have to take steps forward," Murcia's regional president Fernando Lopez Miras, told Spanish broadcaster TVE on Saturday. "If the central government does nothing, we will approve a curfew."

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government would likely have enough votes to pass the measure in parliament. It would have the votes of the Basque Nationalist Party and other regional parties who support the measure.