Spain faces nationwide rebellion after Madrid enforces strict COVID-19 restrictions

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Spain saw a centralised government order overturned after the Madrid Regional Government successfully challenged a city-wide coronavirus lockdown. Since the summer, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has allowed the 17 Spanish autonomous regions to respond independently to local outbreaks. But the decision could soon backfire now Madrid rejected the restrictions the Government has been imposing to contain the resurgence of infections.

France 24 reporter Sarah Morris said: “Essentially, the Court’s decision says that the central Government, which is socialist and left-wing led, should not have imposed measures on Madrid because they affect the fundamental rights.

“And as a devolved health system, to alter the fundamental rights of the residents falls to the Madrid Regional Government.

“That means, effectively, that that ban on movement which affected five million residents, around 17 percent of the Madrid capital and those surrounding towns, no longer applies.

“That also means capacity limitations in shops and restaurants will also no longer apply.”

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Madrid had previously introduced independent restrictions to contain the spread and the Court’s decision could soon have some neighbourhoods in the Spanish capital return under even stricter anti-COVID measures.

Ms Morris continued: “Madrid had already introduced limits and extra restrictions on about 45 neighborhoods they consider to be the worst-affected by COVID-19.

“Those measures will be back in place so Madrid residents living in one of those regions will find themselves subject to those restrictions again.

“In some cases, they were even tougher than than Madrid-wide lockdown.”

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Spain has seen a significant spike of coronavirus cases over the past two months and the central Government has expanded the role played by the army to help with contact tracing.

Over 150 military volunteers have been employed in five military basis across Madrid to call people diagnosed with COVID-19 to help them create a map of recent contacts in a bid to ask those potentially infected to stay home.

Lieutenant Héctor Sánachez, based at El Goloso military base on the outskirts of Madrid, said: “We try to instill in them the idea that their help is vital to put an end to the chaos we are experiencing this year as soon as possible.”

However, he admitted there have been setbacks: “We cannot check if people are doing their part and isolating themselves. We want to think so, but obviously we cannot control people.”

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Estimates from the Carlos III Health Institute report an average of three contacts is being identified for each person who tests positive.

Lieutenant Sánchez insisted it has been difficult for the soldier to identify the origin of new outbreaks in a populated area like the capital of Spain and an infected person could infect two or three more.

“Our job is to prevent it from being extended to three more people, because then it is an endless chain,” he added.

Spain has carried out over 10 million swab tests but public health experts have warned tests alone are not enough as they emphasised the importance of contact tracing.

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