Sources of Law in the EU Member States

Real Decreto 463/2020, de 14 de marzo, por el que se declara el estado de alarma para la gestión de la situación de crisis sanitaria ocasionada por el COVID-19 (2/2020)

Name of the Act/s

Real Decreto 463/2020, de 14 de marzo, por el que se declara el estado de alarma para la gestión de la situación de crisis sanitaria ocasionada por el COVID-19

Date of entry into force of original text

Marz 14, 2020

Date of Text (Adopted)

Marz 14, 2020

Type of text

Royal Decree/Real Decreto

Enacted by


Reference to the Constitution (art)

Article 116.2: “A state of alarm shall be declared by the Government, by means of a decree decided upon by the Council of Ministers, for a maximum period of fifteen days.The Congress of Deputies shall be informed and must meet immediately for this purpose. Without their authorisation the said period my not be extended.The decree shall specify the territorial area to which the effects of the proclamation shall apply”.

Subject area

State of alarm, health protection, freedom of movement, economic activities.

If the act implements a source of EU Law: cite the relevant EU legal source



By means of this royal decree (which according to what the Constitutional Court declared in its judgment n. 83 of 2016 is a source of law that has “rank, force and value of law”) the state of alarm is declared with the aim of protecting health and safety of citizens in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The main purpose of the measures adopted is to contain the progression of the disease and strengthen the Spanish public health system.

The spatial scope in which the state of alarm is declared is the entire national territory and its duration is 15 days. In practice, the state of alarm was extended six times (through the corresponding decrees proposed by the Government and approved by the majority of the Congress of Deputies), being lifted on June 21.

The management of the state of alarm shows an evident centralizing spirit, since it attributes to the President of the central Government the status of “competent authority”. Likewise, the figure of the “delegated competent authorities” is established, which are the following ministers: Defense, Health, Interior and Transport. These competent authorities are empowered to issue orders, resolutions and interpretive instructions that, in the specific sphere of their competence, are necessary to guarantee the provision of services and the protection of people, goods and places.

The state and local security forces, as well as the police of the Autonomous Communities are under the orders of the Interior minister. A similar approach is introduced in relation to the health authorities, since all of them must follow the orders of the minister of health, despite the fact that the powers in matters of health are owned by the Autonomous Communities (article 148.1.21 of the Constitution).

In the sphere of fundamental rights, the decree provides for important limitations that, in no case, can be considered equivalent to its suspension (expressly prohibited by article 55.1 of the Constitution). Particularly noteworthy is the severe limitation of the freedom of movement of people (article 19 of the Constitution), who may only circulate individually on foot or by private vehicle or public transport on public roads and spaces for public use to carry out a limited list of priced activities. These activities refer to the acquisition of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities; attendance at health centers; displacement to the place of work and return to the place of habitual residence; assistance and care of the elderly, minors, dependents and people with disabilities or in a situation of special vulnerability; situations of force majeure, need or of a similar nature. Likewise, assistance to places of religious worship is conditional on the adoption of organizational measures to avoid crowds and always respecting safety distances (at least one meter). In a similar sense, the development of commercial activity is regulated - which is only allowed in person in relation to food products, basic necessities, pharmaceuticals, the press, gas stations, basically.

As regards educational activity, it is suspended in person at all centers and stages, including university education. Whenever possible, online distance learning will be carried out.

Another sign of the seriousness of the existing situation, as well as the need to minimize all activity is confirmed in the provisions that suspend procedural deadlines in all jurisdictional orders and also in the Public Administration.

Weekly submission of information to the Congress of the deputies of a report on the execution of the different measures adopted by the competent authorities, as well as an assessment of their effectiveness in containing the progress of the pandemic.

Available Text

Osservatorio sulle fonti

Rivista telematica registrata presso il Tribunale di Firenze (decreto n. 5626 del 24 dicembre 2007). ISSN 2038-5633.

L’Osservatorio sulle fonti è stato riconosciuto dall’ANVUR come rivista scientifica e collocato in Classe A.


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© 2017 Registrazione presso il Tribunale di Firenze n. 5626 del 24 dicembre 2007 - ISSN 2038-5633