‘Please stay at home’: Spanish police using drones to keep people inside during coronavirus lockdown

Citizens banned from leaving homes except for essential trips under state of emergency

Samuel Lovett
Monday 16 March 2020 11:34 GMT
'Please stay at home' Spanish police using drones to keep people inside during lockdown

Spanish police are using drones to keep people inside their homes as authorities attempt to tackle the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

With 297 deaths and close to 9,000 cases of infection as of Monday, Spain is Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy.

On Saturday, the government announced a state of emergency that bans citizens from leaving their home, except for buying essential supplies and medicines, for work or to assist the elderly and others in need.

All schools, restaurants, bars, sports venues and cultural centres have been ordered to close, extending measures that various regional authorities had taken in recent days, while social gatherings are also forbidden.

As part of efforts to maintain restrictions, police in Madrid have been deploying drones in public areas, such as Buen Retiro Park, to urge people to return to their homes.

Nearly half of Spain’s cases have been recorded in the Madrid region, according to the Spanish Health Ministry.

“We won’t hesitate to use all the measures we have at our disposal to look out for your safety and everyone’s safety,” the city’s police department said on Twitter. “Although some of you will give us a hard time.”

ENAIRE, Spain’s air navigation manager, announced that it was coordinating with Madrid police in the drone operation, as well as with the country’s Air Force.

The policy follows the same approach adopted by Chinese authorities, who also used drones to keep people indoors and away from public sites as part of the country’s aggressive quarantine efforts.

In announcing the new measures on Saturday, prime minister Pedro Sanchez called for unity and cooperation among Spain’s 46.7 million citizens.

“I want to tell the workers, the self-employed and businesses that the government of Spain is going to do everything in its power to cushion the effects of this crisis,” he said.

“Spain is demonstrating in these critical hours that it has the capacity to overcome adversity.

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

People who break quarantine in Spain can be fined up to €600,000 euros and face prison time.

The state of emergency will last for two weeks, though could be extended if deemed necessary by the government.

France has joined Spain in placing its population on lockdown, while Germany and Portugal have said they will close their borders.

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