Madrid imposes new COVID-19 restrictions to contain rapid spread

According to Spain’s health authorities, almost a third of all COVID-19 cases registered in Spain in recent days have been in Madrid and its surrounding region. [Shutterstock / Enrique Campo Bello]

New measures to combat the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Madrid enter into force today (21 September), limiting social gatherings to no more than six people and putting neighbourhoods which have seen the most infections back into partial lockdown for at least 14 days, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

Madrid’s regional government (Comunidad de Madrid) on Friday announced the fresh restrictions aimed at curbing the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region. They enter into force in several southern parts of the capital, severely hit by the new outbreaks.

According to Spain’s health authorities, almost a third of all COVID-19 cases registered in Spain in recent days have been in Madrid and its surrounding region. These areas are home to around 855,193 people (17% of the Madrid region total population), and account for 25% of detected coronavirus cases, local health authorities reported on Friday.

On Monday at noon, Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will meet Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso (conservative, Popular Party), at the headquarters of the Madrid regional government, EFE reported. Sánchez sent a letter to Ayuso last week, offering assistance from the central government, but noting that the competence of the regional governments on healthcare policy, among others, will be respected.

For the time being, Madrid’s regional government has excluded the declaration of a state of alarm for its own territory, in order not to “freeze” the local economy, already heavily affected by the crisis, Ayuso stressed.

However, Madrid’s regional minister of health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, warned in an interview that should a complete lockdown of the entire region of Madrid – which, with  a total of 186,800 infections since the start of the pandemic is currently Spain’s epicentre – be necessary to contain the pandemic, the local administration is ready to implement such an extreme measure.

Spain experienced fa national state of alarm rom March to June, with heavy restrictions on mobility, as an extraordinary measure to contain the spread of the virus. However, the state of alarm also put on hold vital sectors of the country’s economy, such as tourism, which accounts for almost 18% of Spain’s GDP.

The country’s new restrictions on mobility affect people living within 37 “basic health areas” (Áreas Básicas de Salud), of which 26 are located in six districts of the city of Madrid, and the rest in other municipalities in the Madrid region.

A basic health area is smaller than a city district and can include several primary healthcare centres, El País reported.

As official sources of the Comunidad de Madrid reported, citizens will be allowed in and out for essential activities such as caring for dependents, or going to work or school.

Stores and businesses of the affected areas can only operate at 50%, and closing time is set at 10 pm with the exception of pharmacies and gas stations.

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