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MADRID

Madrid mulls extending confinement zones as all residents advised to ‘restrict movements’

Spain's health minister on Tuesday called on residents of Madrid to limit their movements and social contacts to the "essential" to put the brakes on a surge in Covid-19 infections, a day afer new restrictions came into effect in the worst hit zones.

Madrid mulls extending confinement zones as all residents advised to 'restrict movements'
Residents in Madrid's Fuenlabrada face a new lockdown. Photo: AFP

The warning came as Madrid regional authorities mulled extending the confinement zones to another 16 trouble spots.  

Spain is struggling to contain a second wave of the virus, which has already infected over 670,000 people and claimed over 30,000 lives, one of Europe's highest tolls.

Madrid has become the epicentre of the contagion with a rate of infection of nearly 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks across the region – nearly three times the national average.

“I would recommend residents of Madrid to limit to the maximum their movements, that they scrupulously respect the measures dictated by the health authorities in the region and minimise their movements to what is essential and their contacts to those closest to them,” Health Minister Salvador Illa said during an interview with radio Cadena Ser.   


File photo of Health Minister Salvador Illa. Photo: AFP

His comments come a day after a partial lockdown came into effect on some 850,000 people in the Madrid region — mostly in densely populated, low-income districts in the south — who account for 13 percent of the region's population of 6.6 million but 24 percent of virus infections.

The restrictions which came into force on Monday prevent people from entering or leaving the affected areas, except for work, education or to seek medical care but they can move around freely withing their zone.

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The affected areas have all counted more than Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants — around five times the national average, which in itself is the highest in the European Union.

But on Tuesday regional authorities said they were considering extending the confinement rules to more zones across Madrid as the number of new cases grew. 

So far 37 “health zones” have been placed under new restrictions but another 16 zones across Madrid already meet the threshold of an accumulation rate of over 1,000 cases per 100,000 population in a two week period.

 

Madrid's regional Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, told Onda Cero in an interview on Tuesday morning that: “We are assessing whether to expand the (confinement) area to include those with an incidence rate above 1,000”.

Here is a list of the heath zones that could be next for confinement according to the incidence rate recorded in each.

Madrid capital

  • San Isidro: 1.213,07
  • Campo de la Paloma: 1.194,15
  • Canillejas: 1.095,67
  • Villaamil: 1.095,39
  • Rafael Alberti: 1.047,51
  • Orcasitas: 1.046,73
  • Lavapiés: 1.037,12
  • Vicálvaro-Artilleros: 1.035,80
  • García Noblejas: 1.026,20

Alcorcón

  • Doctor Trueba:1.339,11
  • Miguel Servet: 1.117, 38

Torrejón de Ardoz

  • Las Fronteras: 1.150,99

Fuenlabrada

  • Panaderas: 1.078,37

Villa del Prado

  • Villa del Prado, la única área sanitaria del municipio: 1.057,92

Móstoles

  • Alcalde Bartolomé González: 1.019,70

Collado Villalba

  • Sierra de Guadarrama: 1.064,67

To find out the situation in your neighbourhood, click on the interactive map below and hover over the area you want to check and a box will appear with all the latest epidemiological information.

The regional government of Madrid, which is responsible for health care, has also reduced the maximum size of permitted social gatherings across the entire region from ten to six.

Many epidemiologists have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of Madrid's new measures but Illa said he believed they could help control the spread of the virus and that it would not be necessary to declare a state of emergency in the region, a step which would allow the government to confine people to their homes.

Since the central government ended its state of emergency on June 21st, lifting all national lockdown restrictions, responsibility for public healthcare and managing the pandemic has been left in the hands of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

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FACE MASKS

When and where will face masks still be mandatory in Spain?

Masks are no longer be required on public transport in Spain from Wednesday February 8th, but when and where will they still be obligatory?

When and where will face masks still be mandatory in Spain?

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias confirmed end the end of January that face masks would no longer be compulsory on public transport, a measure that has been in place in Spain for almost three years.  

On Tuesday February 7th, the Spanish government finally approved the measure and it was published in the Official State Bulletin (BOE) on Wednesday February 8th, meaning that masks will no longer be required on public transport.

The measure is possible because Spain’s Covid-19 “epidemiological situation
is enormously stable at the moment,” Darias told a news conference after a weekly
cabinet meeting.

Spain has ceased to be the only country in Europe that still requires the use of face masks on public transport. 

The measure comes months after other European countries took the same decision, which has been delayed due to the threat of the Covid-19 situation in China and fear of new variants such as ‘kraken’ from the US.

Where else masks will masks not be mandatory any more?

Darias elaborated further, confirming that as well as on public transport, masks will not be required in health establishments such as opticians, auditory and orthopaedic centres, where they had been up until now.  

Will they still be required anywhere?

Yes, the government has stated that face masks will still be mandatory in all other health centres, pharmacies and hospitals, as well as in care homes.

You will also need to continue wearing them in dentist offices, physiotherapy centres, blood banks, family planning or fertility clinics and psychology or psychiatric offices. 

READ ALSO: Spain announces end of public transport face mask rule

What about on aeroplanes?

Aeroplanes will be counted as public transport and therefore, you will no longer need to wear a mask when flying to or from Spain. 

This will bring Spain in line with many other European countries who dropped the mask rule on planes months ago, which airlines have been asking for, for a while. 

The corporate director of Iberia Juan Cierco has been very critical of the mandatory masks on flights rule. 

The use of masks outdoors ceased to be mandatory almost a year ago, on February 10th, 2022.

Then, two months later on April 20th, the government announced they wouldn’t be required indoors either, except in health centres and on public transport. 

The latest figures for Covid-19 in Spain, published on Friday February 3rd, showed that the number of people hospitalised has fallen by 12.1 percent over the last week and by 15.2 percent in the ICU.

The current average incidence of infections in Spain over the last 14 days stood at 50.76 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Covid-19 controls at airports in Spain

Last week, Darias also announced the results of the controls carried out by the Foreign Health Department on travellers coming on direct flights from China.

Controls have been carried out on a total of 1,765 travellers and three people have tested positive for Covid-19, she confirmed.

The three positives were confirmed by PCR and the virus was sequenced, showing that it was the same strain that is currently already dominant in Spain. 

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