Madrid region recommends people in areas with highest coronavirus infections stay at home

The advice comes on the day when a judge overturned the regional government's plans to close nightclubs and restrict smoking in public, and when new cases in Spain topped 8,100

The deputy health chief in Madrid Antonio Zapatero (l) visits a PCR testing center in Alcobendas, Madrid on Friday.
The deputy health chief in Madrid Antonio Zapatero (l) visits a PCR testing center in Alcobendas, Madrid on Friday.Luis de vega

The government of the Madrid region, which currently accounts for a third of the new coronavirus infections in Spain, on Friday recommended that inhabitants do not leave their homes in the worst-affected areas, as well as advising that family meetings be restricted. The administration also made clear it is not ruling out stricter conditions for bars and restaurants in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

That was according to the deputy regional health chief Antonio Zapatero, who was referring on Friday to the Carabanchel, Usera and Vallecas districts, which have the highest contagion rates in the Madrid region and where thousands of random PCR tests are being offered to asymptomatic members of the public this week.

As well as these districts, the satellite municipalities of Fuenlabrada, Parla, Móstoles and Leganés are registering the greatest incidence of the virus among their citizens, according to an epidemiological report released on Tuesday by the regional government.

The deputy health chief advised “avoiding unnecessary meetings” and considered it “absolutely recommendable that they not exceed more than 10 people”

The warning from the Madrid region came ahead of the daily report from the Spanish Health Ministry, which on Friday afternoon showed that Spain had registered 8,148 new infections, 3,650 of which were detected in the last 24 hours. A further 25 people have died from Covid 19, according to the latest figures. Madrid once again accounted for the highest number of cases, according to Friday’s figures, with 1,199 infections in the last 24 hours.

“We are concerned,” said Zapatero on Friday morning about the situation, but ruled out imposing lockdowns in any specific areas for now. He blamed the situation on the mobility of citizens in a densely population region such as Madrid, adding that it is better “to avoid unnecessary journeys” as well as trying to “stay at home in the areas where there is a larger rate of cases.” He also advised “avoiding unnecessary meetings” and considered it “absolutely recommendable that they not exceed more than 10 people.”

The advice came on the same day that a Madrid judge nullified the decision by the regional government to implement measures agreed last week by the central Health Ministry and Spain’s regions to close nightclubs and bars and ban smoking in public when a safe distance cannot be observed. Judge Alfonso Villagómez Cebrián overruled the order introduced on Thursday night by the regional government, on the basis that it had not been previously published in the central administration’s Official State Gazette (BOE). He also argued that only the central government in Madrid has the power to limit fundamental rights, as the region’s order does.

The move by the judge, Zapatero said on Friday, was “bad news.” The deputy health chief insisted that the correct use of facemasks by the public “continues to be fundamental,” as well as respecting social distancing and guaranteeing the isolation and quarantine of new cases and their contacts.

With just a few weeks to go until the start of the school year, the health and education chiefs in the Madrid region are, for now, ruling out the complete return to the classroom for all students, but will not be presenting their full plans for the education sector until next week.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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