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Spanish judge strikes down confinement for Catalan area over coronavirus

MADRID — A Spanish judge barred Catalan authorities from confining about 160,000 people to their homes in the city of Lleida and seven other towns as coronavirus cases rose, saying the regional government had exceeded its powers.

People will still not be able to leave the area, under a lockdown decided earlier this month after an increase in cases, but they can move freely within the area, the judge said.

“What is proposed today goes far beyond a simple limitation of movement and seriously affects constitutionally recognized rights,” Judge Elena Garcia-Munoz Alarco said in the ruling, rejecting the Catalan regional government’s decision.

Spain, which has been one of the European countries worst affected by the coronavirus, lifted a state of emergency at the end of June, when the pandemic seemed to have come under control.

But with dozens of new clusters now seen around the country, regional authorities are taking new measures either to lock down small areas or make it mandatory to wear a mask everywhere in public.

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