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

School Shooting Michigan

Teenager charged over high school shooting that left four dead

Spain Volcano

Volcanic lava threatens church and more homes on Spanish island

Mexico Prison Break

Nine inmates escape after gang rams vehicles into Mexican prison

Actor Jussie Smollett (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Police: Jussie Smollett ‘upset’ camera did not record attack

There are serious doubt's over Peng's safety and freedom

Peng Shuai: Women's tennis tournaments cancelled in China over fears for player's safety

The European Commission chief has called on countries to introduce a vaccine mandate.

Europe must consider mandatory vaccines, says EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen

EU should consider making Covid-19 jabs mandatory, says von der Leyen

School Shooting Michigan

Fourth student dies after Michigan high school shooting

Fossils found in Chile are from the bizarre dog-sized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported (Luis Perez Lopez via AP)

New dinosaur species from Chile had a unique slashing tail

Dr Tedros Adhanom warned countries to take the new variant 'extremely seriously'

WHO: 'Toxic mix' of low vaccine coverage and testing was perfect 'recipe' for new variants

People wait for a coronavirus test in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea confirms first five cases of Omicron variant

Firefighters, police officers and railway employees stand on a railway site in Munich, Germany (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Four injured after Second World War bomb explodes at Munich construction site

The BioNTech chief said vaccines will still work against Omicron

'Don't freak out' about Omicron because vaccines will work, BioNTech chief says

Fijian soldiers on the Solomon Islands

New Zealand sends police and army to Solomon Islands to quell riots

Traveller at Japanese airport

Japan suspends reservations on incoming flights to halt spread of Covid variant

Rust movie set

Alec Baldwin Rust shooting: Police investigate how live rounds got on set