Spanish govt imposes covid state of emergency in Madrid in crackdown after capital refused to enforce lockdown measures

SPAIN has imposed a 15-day state of emergency on Madrid as 7,000 police officers were deployed to enforce a new lockdown.

Spanish authorities had been in a stand-off with regional officials pushing back against plans to impose further restrictions on the capital.

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It came after a Madrid court overturned a partial coronavirus lockdown imposed a week ago on the city of 6.6million.

City officials have argued coronavirus cases are down and the state of emergency is unjustified amid the row.

Madrid health minister Enrique Ruiz Escudero insisted the measures which were already in place are working and slammed the emergency order.

He said it was "a measure no [Madrid resident] will understand" as the centre-rightcity authorities stand up against the socialist government.

Emergency measures were introduced with immediate effect just hours after Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez issued an ultimatum.

He ordered the city and nine nearby towns to obey the new lockdown rules, or face intervention from the central government.

Salvador Illa, the national health minister, said: "The president of Madrid has decided to do nothing.

"Over the past week, 63 people have died from Covid-19 in the Madrid region. Right now, there are 3,361 people in hospital in the Madrid region.

"There are 498 people fighting for their lives in the region’s intensive care units.

"We can sit on our hands or we can stop down the virus. Politics is about serving people and stopping the virus."


 

Madrid has recorded up to 723 infections per 100,000 residents, but this is now falling closer to 500 – the intervention benchmark for Spain.

The state of emergency is not as severe as Spain's total lockdown in March, but brings back into force rules overturned by the court on Thursday.

It means leaving and entering Madrid is banned for non-essential trips.

Hotels and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity and doors must shut at 11pm, while other businesses will have to close at 10pm.

It also introduces a Spanish version of the rule of six restricting the size of family and social gatherings.

Churches and other places of worship are also restricted to one third capacity, and people cannot meet with friends or family from other local areas.

The tough new measures have been imposed ahead of Spain's upcoming national holiday, Hispanic Day, on Monday.


Spanish TV channel Antena 3 previously described the city authorities as on a "war footing" with the national government in the dispute.

Madrid president Isabel Diaz Ayuso has said the solution to the virus is "not total confinement" as she demanded more action, not restrictions, to beat the virus.

Ms Ayuso has previously argued "people get run over every day but that doesn't mean we ban cars" as she opposed full lockdown.

The president has said she will only close the city if other qualifying locations in Spain follow.

'RUINING OURSELVES'

And she called on the government to roll out Covid testing at rail stations and Barajas Airport.

"We are ruining ourselves, we have to go to creative intermediate formulas. Madrid cannot be confined," she said.

"We have implemented all possible measures so that life continues because we are an economic engine and Madrid cannot be stopped."

She urged the national government to "trust Madrid" and assured the city doing "everything it has in its power" to control the virus.

Spain was one of the worst impacted nations in Europe during the first wave in March and April – with a total of 872,276 cases and 32,562 deaths.

Nationwide the country saw more than 10,000 cases and almost 1,000 deaths a day at the peak of the pandemic.

Infections are now falling to an average of 9,500 this week from 11,200 two weeks ago.

And this is despite Spanish authorities keeping bars and restaurants open and largely avoiding local lockdowns.

Many nations in Europe are seeing large flare-ups in coronavirus cases going into the autumn and winter, including Britain.

France is bracing for a "massive influx" of coronavirus patients, Italy has made masks mandatory, and the Netherlands has become of the world's new hotspots.

The World Health Organisation warned Europe is facing a "very serious situation" as new cases have doubled in more than half the countries in the EU.

However, health chiefs admitted the increase in cases is partly down to more comprehensive testing – but said it was still a "wake-up call".

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