An earlier curfew is a possibility. | MDB

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The Spanish government is considering an earlier curfew than 10pm, which is the earliest time it can be imposed under the state of alarm that was declared towards the end of October.

As the number of new cases of the virus per day went above 40,000 on Friday, the health minister, Salvador Illa, conceded that the data were "very worrying". Illa has been in favour of adopting any "effective" measures to curb the third wave, although he has wanted to wait to assess the impact of new restrictions adopted by regional governments.

Various regions have been calling for an earlier curfew or home confinement (lockdown). Under the state of alarm, regional presidents have to request authorisation from Madrid for an alteration to its terms, but this hasn't stopped Castile and León having unilaterally decided to bring the curfew forward to 8pm. Illa's response has been to say that if there is to be a change to the time, this should be done "by talking to everyone".

"Anything that concerns a restriction of fundamental rights, such as mobility, must always be done with the maximum legal guarantees. If new measures are to be articulated, these will be raised at the Inter-Territorial Council (for the National Health System) in order that there are legal guarantees."

With support for home confinement said to be increasing, Illa and the Spanish government are resisting the calls. "We are not currently contemplating any home confinement. We beat the second wave without confinement."

According to the minister, the vaccination programme is proceeding at "cruising speed". Almost 70% of doses delivered to the regions have been administered. The objective, he stresses, is vaccination of 70% of the population by the summer. Over the coming months, "more people will be vaccinated than are infected".

Target population groups for the vaccine are to be announced in the next few days. These will be ones to receive the vaccine after the first stage - care homes, frontline health personnel - has been covered.