Spain imposes state of emergency in virus-hit Madrid

9 October 2020, 14:54

Virus Outbreak Spain
Virus Outbreak Spain. Picture: PA

The Madrid regional government opposes the national government’s restrictions, saying they are draconian and hurt the economy.

Spain’s government has declared a state of emergency in Madrid, wresting control of efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19 from local authorities in a region that is experiencing one of Europe’s most significant coronavirus outbreaks.

The step, which took immediate effect and lasts for two weeks, forced Madrid authorities to restore restrictions on travel that had been introduced by the national government but were struck down the previous day by a Madrid court ruling.

That successful legal challenge by Madrid officials was part of a long dispute between the country’s main political parties over their coronavirus response. Those differences, and the changing rules, have dismayed and confused local residents.

The government announced the state of emergency after a hastily arranged cabinet meeting in the wake of the court ruling. Health minister Salvador Illa said the previous measures would come back into force and only the legal framework for them was changing.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

He told a press conference it was “undeniable” that there is community transmission in the Madrid region, not just isolated outbreaks, at a crucial juncture as winter approaches and respiratory problems increase.

“Action is needed, and today we couldn’t just stand by and do nothing,” Mr Illa said. “It’s very important that this doesn’t spread to the rest of the country.”

The Madrid region’s 14-day infection rate of 563 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents is more than twice Spain’s national average of 256 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending September 27.

The central government’s measures prohibit all non-essential trips in and out of the capital and nine of its suburbs, affecting 4.8 million people. Restaurants must close at 11pm and stores at 10pm. Both must limit occupancy to 50% of capacity.

Police stop a car at a checkpoint
Police stop a car at a checkpoint (Paul White/AP)

The national government had ordered police in Madrid to fine people if they left their municipalities without justification. More than 7,000 officers will be deployed to ensure the restrictions are observed, interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said.

But Madrid’s conservative regional government opposed those restrictions, saying they were draconian and damaged the economy. Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, said her own, more moderate measures were enough to fight Covid-19.

A Madrid court on Thursday upheld the regional administration’s appeal, saying the national government’s imposition of restrictions violated fundamental liberties.

The row has taken place against a backdrop of political differences: Spain’s national government is led by the centre-left Socialist party, while the Madrid region is run by the country’s main opposition party, the conservative Popular Party.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Severe Weather Iowa

Five dead in Iowa tornadoes with casualties expected to rise

A sign indicating the Storskog border crossing between Russia and Norway

Norway further tightens restrictions on entry of Russians

New Caledonia

Emmanuel Macron says priority is return to calm amid unrest in New Caledonia

Taiwan’s president Lai Ching-te

Taiwan scrambles jets and puts naval units on alert over China’s military drills

New York-Sexual Assault Evidence

Senate passes bill to tighten law used to overturn Harvey Weinstein conviction

Security forces stand around a stage that collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event attended by Mexican presidential candidate Jorge Alvarez Maynez on the outskirts of Monterey

Nine dead as high wind topples stage at Mexican campaign rally

Security forces stand around a stage that collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event

Nine dead, including child, and at least 60 others injured after stage collape at election rally in Mexico

Local residents clean up debris from a tornado in Greenfield, Iowa

Five dead and 35 injured after tornados leave path of destruction in Iowa

APTOPIX Severe Weather Iowa

Four dead and at least 35 hurt in Iowa tornado, officials say

Israel Palestinians

First aid from US pier in Gaza has reached starving Palestinians, the UN says

Election 2024 Haley

Nikki Haley says she will vote for Donald Trump following their disputes

Geoff Kitchen's wife was told in intensive care about her husband's death.

‘Devoted’ wife of London-Singapore flight victim among six Brits in intensive care as she’s told of husband’s death

Michael Schumacher's family have reportedly been awarded £170,239 in damages over a fake interview published by a German magazine.

Michael Schumacher’s family awarded six-figure sum in damages after court battle over fake interview

Uvalde School Shooting

Families of Uvalde school shooting victims sue Texas state police over response

Sean 'Diddy' Combs

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs accused of 2003 sexual assault

Graceland Announces All-American Weekend This July

Judge blocks effort to put Elvis Presley’s former home Graceland up for sale