The cabinet met on Sunday to approve the declaration of the state of alarm. | Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

The Spanish government has declared a new state of alarm, which comes into effect immediately. The cabinet met on Sunday morning to approve a measure that will be more limited in its scope than the state of alarm that was declared in March and then lifted in June.

The new measure is not a return to the conditions of confinement (lockdown) that applied in March. But confinement is a feature in that a nighttime curfew will be applied, except in the Canary Islands, where epidemiological data are more positive than elsewhere in the country. A majority of Spain's regions (seventeen plus the two north African autonomous cities) had asked for the legal means to be able to implement such a curfew ahead of Sunday's cabinet meeting.

As well as the curfew, the decree will restrict mobility in that movement between regions will be prohibited except for justifiable reasons. This will be subject to regional decisions; there can be complete closure of regional borders or partial.

The decree passed on Sunday will be in force for fifteen days and will then have to get Congress backing in order that the state of alarm can run until May 9. The government is seeking to avoid the situation that existed in the spring when it had to return to Congress every fortnight and gain approval for extensions to the previous state of alarm. In this regard, the government wants to follow the lead of France and Italy, where similar mechanisms apply for several months at a time. The conditions of the state of alarm will, however, be reviewed by the government every fortnight.

Obtaining the approval of Congress is unlikely to be problematic, but the government would prefer if it had the backing of the Partido Popular as well so as to have consensus at national level among all regions, including those governed by the PP.

The Sánchez administration has wanted to abide by the principle of "co-governance" with the regions that was highlighted once the previous state of alarm finished. With this in mind, therefore, authority is delegated to regional presidents. In this regard the regions will have the flexibility to apply a curfew one hour earlier (10pm) or one hour later (midnight) and to end it at 5am or 7am.

There is to be a limit of six people for family and social gatherings in all regions of Spain; this measure has already been introduced in the Balearics.