The new restrictions that came into place today in 37 areas of Madrid, in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, present “huge technical difficulties” in terms of their enforcement, the central government’s delegate in the region, José Manuel Franco, admitted on Sunday. More than 850,000 Madrileños from eight different municipalities from today are subject to measures limiting mobility, and that are not far from the strict lockdown that was implemented in March across the country by the central administration.
For the first 48 hours of the new restrictions, however, the police will not be issuing fines for non-compliance but will rather be informing citizens of the new situation, regional justice chief Enrique López explained on Sunday. Local police officers, supported by the National Police and the Civil Guard, will be responsible for ensuring that residents of the affected areas respect the rules. People will be able to access a form on the internet that they can fill out to justify their exit from and entrance to the confined zones.
From Monday, across the region, meetings of more than six people are no longer permitted apart from in a work or institutional environment. In the 37 healthcare areas subject to stricter restrictions, capacity in businesses, academies, sports centers, cinemas, theaters, libraries and hostelry is limited to 50% while closing time will be at 10pm. Home delivery is permitted after that time. Parks and gardens in the affected areas have also been closed.
The regional government will carry out 850,000 rapid coronavirus tests in order to survey the progress of the virus in the affected areas
In the city of Madrid, the affected health areas are located in the city districts of Carabanchel (the health areas of Puerta Bonita, Vista Alegre and Guayaba), Usera (Almendrales, Las Calesas, Zofío, Orcasur and San Fermín), Villaverde (San Andrés, San Cristóbal, El Espinillo and Los Rosales), Villa de Vallecas, Puente de Vallecas (Entrevías, Martínez de la Riva, San Diego, Numancia, Peña Prieta, Pozo del Tío Raimundo, Ángela Uriarte, Alcalá de Guadaira and Federica Montseny), and Ciudad Lineal (Doctor Cirajas, Ghandi, Daroca and La Elipa).
The affected municipalities besides the capital are Fuenlabrada (the health areas of Alicante, Cuzco and Francia), Parla (San Blas and Isabel II), San Sebastián de los Reyes (Reyes Católicos), Getafe (Las Margaritas and Sánchez Morate), Alcobendas (Chopera and Miraflores) and the entire towns of Humanes and Moraleja de Enmedio.
A meeting was held on Sunday at the Madrid 112 Security and Emergencies Agency to finalize the way in which the measures would be applied. The conference took place while demonstrations were being held in various parts of the region in protest at the measures, which were described by attendees as “inefficient and discriminatory.”
A total of 200 municipal officers will be monitoring the Spanish capital, setting up more than 60 checkpoints that will be rotated over the next two weeks in the 26 basic healthcare areas that are subject to the new restrictions.
The government of Madrid reiterated on Sunday that, in its view, the region is not in an “extraordinary” situation that would require the implementation of a localized state of alarm, an option that the prime minister of the national government, Pedro Sánchez, has made available to Spain’s regions, which have been in charge of managing the pandemic since the deescalation of the emergency situation across the country came to an end in July.
At the current time the normal exercising of public powers is sufficient to deal with these extraordinary circumstancesRegional justice chief Enrique López
“There would have to be extraordinary circumstances that were impeding maintaining normality,” argued Enrique López on Sunday. “At the current time the normal exercising of public powers is sufficient to deal with these extraordinary circumstances,” he continued, adding that the measures that have been introduced today are aimed at avoiding a state of alarm in the region.
Asked about whether even stricter measures may be introduced, such as a lockdown of the entire region, Madrid health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero sought to convey a message of calm, saying that if the restrictions are complied with there would be no need to take further steps. Escudero admitted that the primary healthcare system, an essential factor in stopping the spread of the virus, was not up to the task and that there are problems hiring more doctors and nurses.
For now, the medicalized hotels that were set up during the first wave of the coronavirus earlier this year will be reopened, but this time to assist citizens who need to comply with quarantine periods, Escudero explained. He added that the network of contact tracers is aware of 1,468 people who have skipped their isolation period. There are 180 beds currently available in Madrid’s Hotel Colón, an establishment that was used as a medicalized hotel during the worst days of the pandemic. The regional government has another three hotels at its disposition, Escudero explained.
The president of the Federation of Madrid Municipalities and the mayor of Arganda del Rey, Guillermo Hita, who was present at Sunday’s meeting, admitted that the measures are “difficult to enforce,” and insisted on the need for “public awareness.”
The regional government will also carry out 850,000 rapid coronavirus tests in order to survey the progress of the virus in the affected areas and to decide whether the restrictions should remain in place for longer than the initial two weeks and whether they should be rolled out in other places.
English version by Simon Hunter.