Madrid is under partial lockdown on its first day, with police controlling travel in and around the Spanish capital, making it the largest hotspot in Europe for the second wave of the corona virus.
The two-week ban imposed by the Spanish national government on reluctant local officials began at 10pm last night.
The move bans all unwanted travel in and out of the capital and its nine suburbs – affecting approximately 4.8 million people.
Restaurants must close by 11pm and shops by 10pm, and occupancy must be reduced by 50%.
The Socialist Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, said it was crucial to stop the growing cascade and prevent a recurrence of the recurring scenes in March and April.
Although these measures were minimal compared to the house arrests that were mandatory across Spain during the first wave of the virus, they sparked a fierce political battle between Sanchez’s left – wing coalition government and the right – wing rival government of Madrid.
The Madrid government led by Isabel Diaz Ayuzo of the Conservative Popular Party has said it will implement the orders but has appealed to a national court in the hope of revoking them.
Ayuso and local ministers said the restrictions would create “trouble” and undermine an already weak economy and violate their authority as local authorities.
Masked women walk through a closed pharmacy in Madrid.
Source: SIPA USA / PA Images
City health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero has argued that health experts have been urging Madrid to take strong action for weeks, but no action is needed.
The Ministry of Health has ordered Madrid to refrain from adopting a set of health measures that would require cities with a population of more than one million to comply with strict regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.
The measures were approved by a majority of local health authorities in 19 regions and autonomous cities in Spain.
Government orders only allow people to travel across the municipal border for work, medical appointments, legal errors, or appointments in government administration.
The area had already applied similar measures in some areas and limited social gatherings to a maximum of six, but infections were on the rise.
Madrid has been spearheading a resurgence of the virus in Spain, the highest cumulative cascade in Europe since the onset of the pandemic – 770,000.
The two-week infection rate in the capital is 695 cases per 100,000 residents. This is 274 times the national average, seven times the European average of 94 last week. European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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In Spain, more than 32,000 people have died from the virus, according to the Ministry of Health.
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