A court in Madrid has rejected strict new lockdown laws imposed on the Spanish capital by the government last week to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The Health Ministry banned 4.8 million people in the city from leaving their local areas except for essential business on Friday.
But regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, and that the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.
The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions ‘interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it.’
Police officers stop a car at a checkpoint during a partial lockdown in Madrid, Spain, Monday
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (left) speaks during the bilateral press conference with Regional President of Madrid Isabel Diaz Ayuso (right) following a meeting in Madrid last month
R-RATE: The R-rate in Madrid is below 1.00 at 0.91 – this means that infections are not multiplying
INFECTIONS: A graph showing the first and second waves of outbreak in Madrid – it should be noted that the higher number of cases does not correlate with more deaths because the capacity for testing is now much greater
The ruling means that police won’t be able to fine people for leaving their municipalities without a justification.
However, it has added to confusion over whether residents of Madrid can travel to other parts of Spain for this weekend’s national holiday celebrations.
Other restrictions not affected by the ruling include a six-person cap on gatherings and limits to restaurant, bar and shop capacity and opening hours.
Madrid has been at the centre of a political impasse between Spain’s national and regional authorities that has irked many people, who see more partisan strategy taking place than real action against the pandemic.
The two sides were meeting later Thursday.
The region has a 14-day infection rate of 591 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, more than twice Spain’s national average of 257 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending September 27.
However, the R-rate for Madrid – that is the rate of infection – remains below the crucial figure of 1.00 and stands at 0.91 today after it rose to more than 1.50 in July.
A figure higher than 1.00 means that infections are multiplying.
In an initial reaction from the government – which can appeal the ruling – Health Minister Salvador Illa said he had not yet had time to study it.
‘We will take the legal decisions that best protect health. We are sure that the Community of Madrid will agree with this approach. We do not care much about anything but citizens’ health,’ he told a parliamentary committee without specifying further.
Madrid’s regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso at the Madrid assembly on Thursday (left) and Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa (right) before the Health Commission
Police control motorists at a checkpoint in Madrid on Monday after the health ministry imposed its new measures on Friday
Ministers had approved the new rules in an attempt to bring infection rates in Madrid down, making it the first European capital to head back into a full lockdown.
after the city became one of Europe’s hardest-hit areas.
Restaurant owner Sonny van den Holstein said last week that he was exasperated by the political wranglings and the crushing ramifications for his business.
‘We have been eight months with masks and without nightclubs and parties, and there is still contagion. Then what kind of impact will these restrictions make?’
‘People are confused, they hesitate to go out … they are in fear,’ he said.
Famous for its late-night carousing and usually lively tourist flow, Madrid’s bars and restaurants had been ordered to shut two hours earlier than the previous 1am curfew, while restaurants, gyms and shops were told to cut capacity cut by half.
Coronavirus cases are on the rise throughout much of Europe – with France reporting its highest one-day total ever on Wednesday, with sharp spikes in Italy and Germany recorded
The measures broadened a confinement already in place in poorer parts of the city with high infection rates.
Conservative regional head Ayuso had tweeted her fury at the PM at the time, writing: ‘From tomorrow one will be able to get to Madrid from Berlin but not from Parla (a periphery town south of Madrid). Thanks for the chaos, Pedro Sanchez.’
In its appeal, Parla argued that the measures did not adequately fight the pandemic and would cost 750 million euros (£683 million) per week to the local economy.
Prime Minister Sanchez said the only goal was saving lives and protecting health. ‘All decisions are made based on scientists’ citeria,’ he said at a summit in Brussels.
According to WHO data published last week, the city had 850 cases per 100,000 people, one of the highest infection rates in Europe.
The Madrid region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to October 7, according to the World Health Organisation, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.
Mallorca and Ibiza gear up to battle THIRD wave of coronavirus
By Rita Sobot In Spain For MailOnline
The holiday islands of Mallorca and Ibiza are gearing up to battle a third wave of coronavirus, health officials have admitted.
Public health chiefs say are unsure if it will strike in the next few weeks or during Christmas but they are certain it is coming.
It is the first time any Spanish region has talked in public about a third wave but the Balearic government says it is already making contingency plans to deal with it.
The prospects of more coronavirus outbreaks will, however, dent plans for any tourism revival this year. It’s also a blow for the Balearics where new cases of Covid-19 are finally slowing down under the second wave.
The shock admission came during a press conference to discuss the evolution of the pandemic in Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera.
General director of public health, Maria Antònia Font said they had bent the curve of the second wave and cases were going down but admitted: ‘There will probably be a third. We don’t know when it will arrive but we are working on all scenarios as we don’t want it to take us by surprise. We waited for the second to arrive and it arrived earlier.’
She said they were working on the scenario that a third wave could ‘happen tomorrow’, saying: ‘We are analysing what margins for improvement there are regarding the first and second waves.’
Spokesman for the autonomous coronavirus management committee, Dr. Javier Arranz said the worrying points for the way ahead were mobility and social and family gatherings which would increase cases.
But of a third wave, he said: ‘If there is one, as long as there is no mutation and we continue to behave well, it will have less impact, lower incidence and shorter duration.’
One of the measures which would help with a third wave is the use of antigen tests which give a result in 20 minutes.
These can be used in schools, in residences or in ports and airports if a study carried out by the health department certifies their usefulness for asymptomatic cases, according to island newspaper Periodico de Ibiza.
‘We have different diagnostic tools to launch at the right time,’ said the director of public health.
In anticipation of a third wave and saturated health centres, a number of express COVID testing stations have already been launched, two of them for school-children.
The Balearic government says the second wave ‘continues to decline’ and the accumulated incidence in the islands is 142 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, 130 in Mallorca. In last seven days, the incidence on the island is 65.
The positive rate for PCR tests is 3.62 per cent in the last two weeks. International sanitary recommendations are that the cumulative incidence is below 60 and the positivity rate below five per cent.
‘We still have a few weeks left,’ said Dr. Arranz.
There have been 317 deaths in the Balearics since the pandemic began.