Tougher lockdown in Madrid is illegal says regional court

Stricter measures had been resisted by the Madrid regional government.
Stricter measures had been resisted by the Madrid regional government. / EP
  • National government and regional officials hold crisis talks to decide next move as the capital area still had 575 cases per 100,000 this week

The Madrid region was plunged into more uncertainty and chaos on Thursday this week in its fight against the high levels of Covid-19 in the area. A top regional court ruled that the tough new restrictions, that started last Friday night and were imposed by central government, were illegal.

After the legal decision, the opposition-led regional government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who had complained about what she felt were the over-strict lockdown measures, called for Pedro Sánchez’s national government to work with them to find legally acceptable rules. Ayuso explained that Madrid “can’t take any more”.

The Madrid regional court overturned the tough national government measures on lockdown for towns over 100,000 people, applied, among other factors, where contagion rates reached over 500 people per 100,000 in the previous 14 days,

The court was critical of central government for not having put in place a stronger legal mechanism to secure localised lockdowns in the time it had had since the start of the pandemic. Current legislation couldn’t be used to restrict citizens’ rights and didn’t replace a formal state of alarm.

On Thursday, prime minister Pedro Sánchez said that all available legal measures now needed “to be put on the table”, refusing to rule out a return to a state of alarm to control Madrid.

Officials from the national government and the Madrid region were due to sit down on Thursday evening to argue out the next course of action.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso in the meantime urged people in Madrid not to leave the region and to exercise caution over the upcoming long weekend for the October 12 Hispanic Day celebrations, which this year have been severely curtailed.

Despite disagreeing with national government’s new rules last week, Madrid’s regional health ministry had implemented the move in the City of Madrid itself and nine large towns around it with high Covid-19 numbers. In the meantime local officials waited for a court decision on the legality, which came out against the measures on Thursday.

On Thursday evening (8 October) the national health ministry announced 12,423 new positive Covid-19 cases in Spain, the highest figure in the week so far. Madrid was still heading the daily list of contagions, but the smaller Navarra region had the highest case rate per inhabitant. Earlier on Thursday, Isabel Díaz Ayuso said that the Madrid region had 575 cases per 100,000 in the last two weeks.