surinenglish

Madrid given until tonight to bring in tighter lockdown rules

A couple leave a health centre in Madrid.
A couple leave a health centre in Madrid. / EP
  • Andalucía was among the regions that voted against the central government's measure, which targets towns with 100,000 people

The regional government in Madrid was this week given 48 hours from Wednesday to put in place new tougher restrictions in the capital and surrounding area, imposed by central government.

The move comes amid the increasing bitterness between ministers and the opposition-controlled regional authority. This week, their disagreements have spread an argument over how far to go with lockdown restrictions in the capital to other regional governments.

By the middle of this week, over 40 per cent of new Covid-19 cases were being reported in Madrid with over 700 cases per 100,000.

After last week's signs of closer alignment, central government came out against the regional government last Friday as the Madrid region extended a partial confinement to just a total of 37 local, health centre districts.

National Health minister, Salvador Illa, did not hide his frustration that Madrid had not gone further and called a rival press conference.

On Wednesday this week, central government convened all the regional governments' Health ministers to agree tougher national restrictions for larger towns with 100,000 people and more than 500 Covid-19 cases in the previous 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants. The move was seen as an attempt by central government to herd Madrid into acting tougher through an agreed national pact.

Although five regional governments rejected the centralised initiative in a vote on Wednesday, including Andalucía, Catalonia and Madrid, ministers made clear that the new national guidelines would be for everyone to follow. Some regions, including Andalucía have cast doubt on the legality of the moves without a new state of alarm.

The measures are due to come into force tonight (Friday, 1 October) in Madrid city and nine surrounding towns.

Among other restrictions, entering and leaving a municipality is prohibited where there are over 500 cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days and where PCR tests are giving a positive result in more than 10 per cent of cases. Emergency hospital beds will also have to be more than 35 per cent occupied for the restrictions to kick in.

The Madrid region has said it will obey the orders but that it will begin court action. No Andalucía towns are expected to fall under the new conditions.