Spain’s federal government has imposed new restrictions on more than three million people living in Madrid as the country tries to control the most serious second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe.
From this weekend, people living in the Spain’s capital can travel outside their home districts for essential journeys only.
Bars and restaurants cannot serve after 10PM. A maximum of six people are permitted to meet in any setting.
The measures have been demanded by Spain’s federal government.
They also take effect in nine towns around Madrid.
The restrictions have been resisted by Madrid’s city authorities, which tried to use the courts to block their imposition. Madrid’s justice minister said it would cost the capital’s economy €8 billion and regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for the chaos, [Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez.”
Signs of the second wave of coronavirus infections now breaking over Spain can be seen at the emergency admission unit of the 12 de Octubre hospital, one of the biggest in Madrid.
Every hour ambulances arrive with new patients.
Some of the patients are helped into wheelchairs; others, already needing oxygen, have to be stretchered in by medical staff wearing full protective gear.
Spanish police have launched an investigation into the party. Those found to have flouted lockdown rules could be fined up to €10,000 ($11,100).
Everyone who attended the party is said to be in quarantine. Prince Joachim, the youngest son of Princess Astrid and 10th in line to the Belgian throne, is said to have mild coronavirus symptoms.
Rafaela Valenzuela, a representative of the Spanish government in Córdoba, condemned the party, calling those who attended “irresponsible”.
She said: “I feel surprised and angry. An incident of this type stands out at a moment of national mourning for so many dead.”
The party was first covered by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, which cited a document from the Andalucian authorities but did not name the prince.
Belgian media have since confirmed with the palace that Prince Joachim was in Spain, where he remains.
Prince Joachim is known to have a long-standing relationship with a Spanish woman, reported to be Victoria Ortiz.
Spain is in the process of emerging from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. It outlined a four-stage plan on May 4 to start easing the lockdown, which saw children under 14 confined to their homes for six weeks.
The country said it was moving to a second phase from June 1 for 70% of Spaniards, leaving only major cities under tighter restrictions.
Spain has among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. As of May 30, the country had 239,228 infections and 27,125 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Spain will allow children outside after six weeks of confinement, the country’s prime minister has announced.
Spanish children have been kept at home since March 14, under strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Now PM Pedro Sánchez aims to relax the rule on April 27 so they can “get some fresh air”.
Meanwhile, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who has young children herself, this week pleaded with the government to allow children outside.
Spain has seen more than 20,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic and almost 200,000 reported cases.
In a TV briefing on April 18, PM Sánchez said Spain had left behind “the most extreme moments and contained the brutal onslaught of the pandemic”.
However, the prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend the country’s state of alarm to May 9 as the achievements made were “still insufficient and above all fragile” and could not be jeopardized by “hasty decisions”.
Another 410 deaths were reported on April 19 – fewer than the previous day. The latest death toll is well down from the peak of the pandemic, and the government allowed some non-essential workers to resume construction and manufacturing on April 13.
However, the main lockdown measures remain in place, with adults only allowed out to visit food stores and pharmacies or work considered essential. Children have been barred from going outside their homes completely.
Spain’s eight million children have already spent five weeks in confinement and there has been growing unease at the risk to their health.
The Spanish Children’s Rights Coalition has warned of mental and physical health problems for children as a result of such measures and called for boys and girls to be allowed outside to play and do some physical activity.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau demanded: “These children need to get out. Wait no more: Free our children!”
Spain’s health ministry said on April 13 that the daily number of deaths had dipped slightly, with 517 reported in the previous 24 hours, compared with 619 announced on April 12. The official total death toll is now 17,489.
The number of new infections continues to drop, with 3,477 confirmed cases bringing the total to 169,496.
PM Pedro Sánchez warned over the weekend: “We are still far from victory, from the moment when we will recover normality in our lives.”
“We are all keen to go back out on the streets… but our desire is even greater to win the war and prevent a relapse,” the prime minister added.
On April 13, the government lifted some of the restrictions put in place on March 27 and allowed businesses whose employees cannot work remotely to reopen.
Officials intend to distribute 10 million face masks on public transport.
Pedro Sánchez said the decision was taken after consulting a committee of experts.
The prime minister also noted that Spain had not entered the “second phase” of the fight against the coronavirus, when there would be any further loosening of the lockdown. That was at least two weeks away and would “be very gradual”, he added.
Builders can only work in areas away from local residents, so they cannot yet go back to doing home improvements.
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