CORONAVIRUS

Cantabria confines all municipalities while Murcia, Galicia close bars and restaurants

The Spanish regions announced the new coronavirus measures ahead of a meeting of healthcare chiefs and the Health Ministry on Wednesday

A closed sidewalk café in Ourense, Galicia last month.
A closed sidewalk café in Ourense, Galicia last month.OSCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

As the second wave of the coronavirus continues to spread in Spain, the country’s regions are implementing restrictions in a bid to avoid their health systems from becoming overwhelmed. The latest governments to take action are Cantabria, Murcia and Galicia, who on Wednesday announced new measures ahead of a meeting of the Inter-territorial Health Committee, a gathering of regional health chiefs and the central Health Ministry.

The Cantabrian government has decreed a perimetral confinement of all of its municipalities and the closure of indoor bars and restaurants. Consumption on sidewalk cafés will still be permitted. Murcia, meanwhile, has ordered the hospitality sector to close, with only take-away or home-delivery food permitted. The Galician regional government has done the same, although only in 60 of its municipalities, affecting 60% of the population.

Cantabria. The northern Spanish region currently has a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants of 400, with the over-65s particularly affected – one of the most at-risk groups from the coronavirus. Occupation levels of hospital beds and intensive care units (ICUs) are at “red alert,” and the situation requires the intensification of local restrictions.

On Tuesday, the regional government was already talking about “uncontrolled and sustained community transmission that exceeds the response capacity of the healthcare system.” The measures will be in place until November 9, and could be extended to 14 days.

Capacity will also be further reduced at event such as weddings and funerals, and in cinemas, theaters and museums. The regional premier, Miguel Ángel Revilla of the Regionalist Party of Cantabria, has called on residents of the region not to travel during this week’s school vacations, and urged parents not to leave children in the care of grandparents or other elderly relatives.

Murcia. The southeastern region has a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants of 748.1, and as such the regional premier, Fernando López Miras of the conservative Popular Party (PP), has ordered the hospitality sector to close from Saturday November 7 for 14 days. The aim is to try to halt the growing number of coronavirus cases, something that has already forced the regional health system to increase the number of ICU hospital beds available (98 of the 120 intensive care beds in the region are already occupied).

Bars and restaurants will be able to sell food for home delivery, but not use their spaces. The regional spokesperson for the committee in charge of monitoring the pandemic, Jaime Pérez, said that in the 10 municipalities where this measure had already been implemented, cases have fallen 8%, while elsewhere they have risen between 13 and 14%. The epidemiologist added that one in every four infections is related to leisure activities.

The regional government has also recommended that local councils close parks and gardens from 7pm onward, and that companies permit home working where possible.

Galicia. With a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants of 312, among the lowest levels in Spain, the regional government has opted to close bars and restaurants in 60 municipalities from Friday at 3pm onward, and likely for a month. Among these areas are seven cities: Vigo, A Coruña, Ourense, Santiago, Pontevedra, Lugo and Ferrol. The areas account for 60% of the population of the region, and they will also be subject to perimetral confinements apart from permitted reasons to leave or enter such as to work, study or attend to seniors or minors.

According to regional premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo (PP), businesses can continue to function in these areas until now while capacity will remain limited in auditoria, cinemas and theaters.

The Galician government says that the measures are aimed at “avoiding a home lockdown” and trying to “save Christmas.”

“The easier option would be to wait, as the central government seems to be doing, but that seems unacceptable to us,” Feijóo said, in reference to the Socialist Party-led government, a center-left coalition with junior partner Unidas Podemos.

Since October 14, coronavirus infections have grown 111% in Galicia. For now, the hospitals are coping, with ICU occupation of 80 beds in the region, while during the first wave the figures was as high as 178.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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