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Spanish court rules COVID-19 home confinement was unconstitutional

People wait in queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test site at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Guillermo Martinez

Spain's Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the strict home confinement included in the national state of emergency to curb the first wave of COVID-19 infections last year was unconstitutional.

Introduced last March, the state of emergency allowed the government to temporarily limit civil liberties, confining almost all Spaniards to their homes and shutting down all but essential industries.

The Constitutional Court said in a statement that it had annulled by a simple majority some articles of the state of emergency decree related to free movement of citizens. The complete ruling will be released in a few days.

By voiding the emergency decree, the ruling opens the door to the cancellation of fines for breaching lockdown restrictions imposed during the period.

The court's decision comes in response to a petition filed by the far-right party Vox, which argued that the measures were overly harsh and constituted a suspension rather than a limitation of civil liberties.

Vox argued that the restrictions required the passing of a "state of exception," which is one rung above a state of emergency and requires parliamentary approval, rather than just a green light from the cabinet.

During a deadly first wave of infection, Spain imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, only allowing people to leave their homes to go to work, buy food or visit a pharmacy or hospital.

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