Spain goes into lockdown, France closes ‘non-essential’ public spaces

Spain has become the second country in Europe after Italy to impose a lockdown on its citizens following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Government officials have put in place sweeping restrictions on the public, with residents told to stay inside for the next 15 days.

People could leave their homes to buy food, to go to work if they cannot work remotely, to seek health care, or to assist the elderly and others in need.

But all schools, restaurants, bars and non-essential stores have been told to close.

The move comes as the number of cases of coronavirus rocketed by 2000 to reach a total of 6200.

“Spain is demonstrating in these critical hours that it has the capacity to overcome adversity,” said Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez.

“We are facing very difficult weeks of efforts and sacrifices. Some important rights must be limited if we want to beat the virus.”

Neighbouring France has also announced the closure of all public places “non-essential” to public life including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and discos. Food shops, tobacconists, banks and public transport will remain open.

“We must absolutely limit movement, meetings and contacts,” French prime minister Edouard Philippe said.