30th November 2020
Isabel Díaz Ayuso
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Madrid now facing partial lockdown on entire city – and 9 other towns in region

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (28 Oct) 

Also read: Details of curfews & restrictions for all regions of Spain during ‘State of Alarm’

The entire city of Madrid and nine other municipalities in the region are now facing partial lockdown restrictions against the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19), the Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced on Wednesday, following an agreement that will apply to all regions in Spain regarding criteria for confinement.

Full details of the new measures have now been published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) – although the Madrid authorities have already questioned their legal validity. The Madrid regional health chief, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, stated that the plan lacked any ‘legal status’ because not all of the regions had voted in favour of the measures. The order will still need to be published by the affected regions of Spain in their own respective gazettes.

It follows a meeting of the ‘Interterritorial Council of the National Health System’, in which a majority of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions approved restrictive measures on mobility in communities that exceed 500 cases of Coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants, have a positivity rate in tests higher than 10% – and an occupation of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) of above 35%.

With these criteria, 10 municipalities in the region of Madrid, including the city itself, will have to establish perimeter confinements, among other limitations.

Salvador Illa
Spanish Health Minister, Salvador Illa, on 30 July 2020. (Congreso.es)

Madrid had already imposed partial lockdown measures on nearly one million citizens living in 37 areas since Monday 21 September for 14 days – which was later extended to include eight other neighbourhoods. Residents of these 45 areas, mainly densely populated, low-income neighbourhoods in the south of Madrid, have only been allowed to leave their ‘healthcare zone’ to go to work, seek medical care or take their children to school. But the measures have not been enough, according to Spain’s central Health Ministry.

‘This agreement has been approved by a broad majority,’ said Illa after the meeting on Wednesday with the healthcare authorities of all Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

Restrictions for the city of Madrid are expected to include a limit on mobility and on the opening hours of bars and restaurants which will also have their seating capacity reduced, as well as restricting social gatherings to six people.

Figures for Coronavirus in Spain released on Wednesday show a further increase of 11,016 infections over Tuesday’s data, with 177 more deaths in 24 hours. The region of Madrid has seen 48,979 infections in 14 days, of a total 133,604 across the whole of Spain for the same period.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Isabel Díaz Ayuso announcing restrictions on 18 September 2020. (Comunidad.Madrid)

‘This is the situation in Madrid,’ said Illa, referring to the figures. ‘That’s why we have agreed to adopt these measures but we’re aware that hard weeks lie ahead. We must all have the same objective: to flatten the curve.’

Following increasing tensions over the past few days between the Madrid regional government and Spain’s central government, the authorities in Madrid voted against the measures – despite Illa having announced that they had agreed on the criteria on Tuesday evening. Galicia, Catalonia, Andalusia and the exclave city of Ceuta also rejected the measures, and Murcia abstained. However, they were out-voted by other regions.

The Catalan government spokeswoman, Meritxell Budó, said that Catalonia already had its own restrictions in place, and that they were more stringent than those proposed by Spain’s Health Ministry.

Catalan regional health minister Alba Vergés said, ‘We did not need an agreement to take action. We have made decisions, we will continue to make them.’ Vergés also said that Catalan authorities had asked the Spanish government to implement mobility restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly to other regions with lower prevalence rates.

Since Spain entered its New Normality phase on 22 June after the central government ended the ‘state of alarm’ that had been in place from 14 March, responsibility for public healthcare and managing the Coronavirus pandemic had been left in the hands of Spain’s 17 regional governments.

The Spanish government, led by prime minister Pedro Sánchez, is a coalition between the socialist PSOE party and the left-wing Podemos group. The Madrid regional government, led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, is a coalition between the right-wing People’s Party (PP) and the centre-right Ciudadanos (Cs) party, with support from Spain’s far-right Vox party.

During the central government’s four phased plan to relax the country’s lockdown restrictions, Ayuso (of the PP party) criticised the prolonged ‘state of alarm’ and lockdown measures – and even threatened legal action when Madrid was not allowed to relax certain restrictions and move from one phase to another.

Click here for all previous reports on: Coronavirus in Spain

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