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Health minister tells MPs that the Covid situation is "fragile and worrying"

A waiter by a Barcelona restaurant ahead of new Catalan restrictions.
A waiter by a Barcelona restaurant ahead of new Catalan restrictions. / EFE
  • The war of words over restrictions in Madrid continues, as other regions ramp up their own restrictions amid 269 per 100,000 national cases

. The national Health minister, Salvador Illa, appeared in Congreso on Thursday to defend the decision to declare a state of alarm in Madrid last Friday (9 October) in order to enforce restrictions on movement in the capital.

After regional judges overturned previous rules to part-lockdown the city of Madrid and nine large towns around it, the national government had stepped in with a state of alarm decree last Friday to force the region to comply. Central government and regional government are at loggerheads over the extent of measures in the capital to curb high Covid-19 rates.

"Worrying"

On the day national data showed 14-day Covid-19 case notification rate per 100,000 inhabitants at 269, above the 250 EU level for drastic action, Illa told MPs that the situation was “fragile, worrying and very changeable”. He said that his call to Madrid for “unity” had been useless.

For her part, Madrid’s president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, said that the stricter rules had been imposed on the region “at gunpoint”.

Madrid’s case rate was dropping this week, although there was further argument between the two authorities over whether fewer tests were being carried out or not, and so possibly artificially lowering cases numbers.

Antonio Zapatero, regional deputy minister of Health, said on Wednesday, “Madrid will go into next week with a rate of 300 [cases per 100,000 people in 14 days].”

He added that “it’s fundamental that we go back to a peaceful and harmonious relationship”.

Consistent guidelines

The national government’s extra restrictions are based on case rates over 500 in large towns, among other factors. This week there was unrest from opposition politicians that the rule wasn’t being enforced consistently in other regions outside Madrid.

Members of the hospitality sector protested against the closure of bars and restaurants in Barcelona on Friday.

Members of the hospitality sector protested against the closure of bars and restaurants in Barcelona on Friday. / REUTERS

On Thursday, it was reported that the Health ministry was working with the regions to clarify more extensive and consistent guidelines on lockdowns..

More regions of Spain are imposing sweeping, although sometimes only recommended, restrictions on towns, limiting access, and social contact, including in the northern cities of Salamanca, Palencia and León in Castilla y León, and in Asturias.

In Catalonia, the regional government has ordered all bars and restaurants to close except takeaways, hoping to stave off a later state of alarm.

Workers in the hospitality sector protested against the measure in Barcelona on Friday.