The new round of lockdown measures for COVID-19 in Spain’s Madrid region have caused division between the central government, the regional government and among the residents.
The new restrictive measures were announced on Friday following a recent surge of infections. According to the latest official data released on Saturday from the Spanish Health Ministry, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in the country has reached 810,807.
Some five million people in Madrid were barred from leaving the region starting Friday evening, making it the first European capital to go back into lockdown due to surging coronavirus cases. The new lockdown will last at least 14 days and could be extended if needed.
Restaurants and bars in the Spanish capital and nine satellite towns will shut early and slash capacity by half in what has again become Europe’s worst infection hotspot.
The new restrictions started at 22:00 local time on Friday, and are not as strict as the previous lockdown in March when people were barred from leaving their homes. However, authorities advised residents not to move around unless absolutely necessary, and police have set up checkpoints to control the major routes in and out of the city.
For the moment fines will not be imposed on residents venturing out of their own districts, but they are expected to be put into place by Monday.
These new restrictions will affect a total of nearly five million people in the city of Madrid and nine other neighboring municipalities.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said that the rising figures show that the government needs to be conscious of how serious coronavirus can become.
There have been concerns that trying to isolate a city as large as the Spanish capital would be practically impossible. Madrid registers more than 2.2 million journeys a day between the city and the rest of the region’s districts.
Regional Premier Isabel Ayuso warned of mayhem if the authorities tried to enforce the new rules.
When it comes to this second lockdown, it’s the economic impact that really concerns the Madrid government. The Region’s Justice Chief Enrique Lopez warned the closure would cost the economy 9.4 billion U.S. dollars over the course of a month.
“Yes, it will affect us. For example, I was going to the office everyday, and now they asked us not to go in. We have to be conscious and responsible, of course, but I think that lockdowns are not letting people spend money. It’s a way to kill our economy and that’s an unfair move from the government,” said a resident.
The heated debate between the regional and central government on how to best handle the crisis in Madrid looks set to continue. The regional government took their argument about the legality of the restrictions to the supreme court on Friday, and a decision on this is expected early next week.
Follow Us on Social Media