Riots broke out in Spanish cities for the second night in a row on Saturday after the government extended a national state of emergency, in response to a new wave of coronavirus infections.
Other European nations have imposed new lockdown measures as numbers of new coronavirus cases have surged across the continent. Almost 26,000 new cases were recorded in Spain on Saturday alone, the highest daily rate since the start of the pandemic.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition decided on Thursday to extend Spain’s state of emergency by six months, but delegated responsibility for imposing most new restrictions on regional governments. However, the national government has already imposed a nighttime curfew across the country in an attempt to curb coronavirus spread.
Riots protesting the restrictions occurred in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and various other cities, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. Police arrested 32 people in Madrid, after rioters set fire to trash cans and vandalized storefronts and banks. Regional police in Barcelona warned on Friday that “very violent and organized far-right groups” were behind demonstrations in that city.
In Madrid, demonstrators chanted slogans including, “Stop the political mafia, stop the dictatorship,” “Madrid says enough,” and “Madrid is being ruined.” Sánchez condemned the behavior of the rioters as “violent and irrational.”
Frustration with the reimposition of coronavirus restrictions has been brewing in other parts of Europe. Residents of Italy, which was hit hard at the onset of the pandemic, have been protesting new restrictions in Rome, Florence, Naples, and other cities. Those demonstrations have also turned violent in some cases.