A Madrid court rejected the strict new lockdown laws that the government imposed on the Spanish capital last week to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Health Ministry prevented 4.8 million people in the city from leaving their home areas except for essential work on Friday.
But the head of the regional government, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, objected, saying it would destroy the region’s economy, and that the ministry had no authority to impose such restrictions.
The Madrid Regional Court stood at its side in its ruling, describing the restrictions as “interference by public authorities with the basic rights of citizens without the legal mandate to support them.”
People queue for a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 in the southern neighborhood of Vallecas in Madrid, Spain, last Thursday – the day before the revoked government restrictions on movement came into effect
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (left) speaks during the bilateral press conference with Madrid’s regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso (right) after a meeting in Madrid last month.
R-RATE: Madrid’s R-rate is below 1.00 at 0.91 – this means the infection is not reproducing
Infection: a graph showing the first and second waves of the outbreak in Madrid – and it should be noted that the greater number of cases is not associated with more deaths because the ability to test is now much greater
This ruling means that the police will not be able to fine people who have left their municipalities without justification.
However, it has added to the confusion over whether Madrid residents can travel to other parts of Spain for national holiday celebrations this weekend.
Other restrictions not affected by the ruling include a maximum of six people for gatherings, limits for restaurant, bar, and stores, and hours of operation.
Madrid was at the center of a political impasse between the national and regional authorities in Spain, which angered many people, who see that there is more of a partisan strategy than taking real measures against the epidemic.
The two sides will meet 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 of 113 cases for the week ending September 27.
However, Madrid’s R – the infection rate – is still below the crucial figure of 1.00 and stands at 0.91 today after rising to more than 1.50 in July.
A number higher than 1.00 means the infection is 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 make the legal decisions that best protect health. We are sure that the Community of Madrid will agree to this approach. He told a parliamentary committee, without further details, that we only care about the health of citizens.
Madrid Regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso at the Madrid Assembly on Thursday (left) and Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa (right) in front of the Health Committee
Police are controlling motorists at a checkpoint in Madrid on Monday after the Health Ministry imposed new measures on Friday
Ministers approved the new rules in an effort to lower infection rates in Madrid, making it the first European capital to return to complete lockdown.
Restaurant owner Sonny van den Holstein said last week that he was exasperated by the political bickering and the devastating implications for his business.
We spent eight months wearing masks, without nightclubs and parties, and the infection still persisted. Then what kind of impact will these restrictions have?
“People are confused and hesitate to go out … They are in fear,” he said.
Madrid’s bars and restaurants, popular with late-night cars and a typically influx of tourists, are known to close two hours before the previous 1 a.m. curfew, while restaurants, gyms and stores have been told to cut capacity in half.
Coronavirus cases are on the rise in most parts of Europe – with France reporting its highest single-day total on Wednesday, with sharp rises in Italy and Germany.
The measures have expanded the scope of the blockade already in place in the poorer parts of the city with high infection rates.
The head of the conservative district Ayusu had tweeted her anger at the time, writing: “ Starting tomorrow, one will be able to get to Madrid from Berlin but not from Parla (the surrounding town south of Madrid). Thanks for the mess, Pedro Sanchez.
On appeal, Parla said the measures were not sufficiently fighting the pandemic and would cost the local economy 750 million euros (£ 683 million) a week.
Prime Minister Sanchez said the only goal was to save lives and protect health. “All decisions are made based on the standards of scientists,” he said at a summit in Brussels.
According to World Health Organization data published last week, the city had 850 cases per 100,000 people, one of the highest infection rates in Europe.
The Madrid region recorded 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks through October 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it the second largest concentration of coronavirus in Europe after Andorra.
Nationwide, however, Spain appears to be heading in the right direction.
The country’s daily infection data is difficult to analyze due to the way it is presented, but seven-day sliding averages show that the number of infections has decreased from more than 11,000 a day two weeks ago, to about 9,500 a day now.
Mallorca and Ibiza are preparing to fight the third wave of Coronavirus
By Rita Sopot in Spain for MailOnline
Health officials admitted that the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza during the holidays were preparing to face a third wave of the Corona virus.
Public health chiefs say they are unsure whether the attack will strike in the next few weeks or over Christmas, but they are certain it is close.
It is the first time that any Spanish region has spoken publicly of a third wave, but the Balearic government says it is already developing contingency plans to deal with it.
However, the prospects of further coronavirus outbreaks will influence plans for any tourism recovery this year. It’s also a blow for the Balearic Islands as new Covid-19 cases finally slow under the second wave.
The shock admission came during a press conference to discuss the development of the epidemic in Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera.
The Director-General of Public Health, Maria Antonia Font, said that they bent the curve of the second wave and that cases were declining, but admitted: “ It is likely that there will be a third wave. We don’t know when it will arrive but we are working on all scenarios because we don’t want it to surprise us. We waited for the second arrival and it arrived early.
She said they are working on a scenario that the third wave could “happen tomorrow,” saying, “We are analyzing the margins of improvement that exist in relation to the first and second waves.”
The spokesperson for the Independent Coronavirus Management Committee, Dr Javier Aranz, said the points of concern moving forward are the mobility and social and family gatherings that would increase cases.
But he said about the third wave: “If there is a boom, and as long as there is no boom and we continue to behave well, it will have less effect, less incidence and shorter duration.”
One of the measures that may help with the third wave is the use of antigen tests that give a result in 20 minutes.
They can be used in schools, in residences, or in ports and airports if a study conducted by the Ministry of Health proves useful in cases without symptoms, according to Al Jazeera Predeco de Ibiza newspaper.
“We have various diagnostic tools to launch at the right time,” said the Director of Public Health.
In anticipation of a third wave and saturated health centers, a number of rapid COVID testing stations have already been launched, two of which are for schoolchildren.
The government of the Balearic Islands says the second wave “continues to decline” and that the accumulated infection rate in the islands is 142 cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days, 130 cases in Mallorca. In the past seven days, the infection rate on the island has been 65.
The positive rate for PCR tests was 3.62 percent in the last two weeks. International health recommendations are that the cumulative incidence is less than 60 and the positivity rate is less than five percent.
“We still have a few weeks left,” said Dr. Aranz.
There have been 317 deaths in the Balearic Islands since the epidemic began.