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MADRID

‘So, can we now leave Madrid?’: Confusion over partial lockdown rules following court ruling

As Spain heads towards a three day weekend with a bank holiday that promises unseasonably warm weather, the court ruling in Madrid overturning a partial lockdown of the capital has left people confused: Can they leave the city or not?

'So, can we now leave Madrid?': Confusion over partial lockdown rules following court ruling
Photo: AFP

The Madrid High Court ruled on Thursday that it would not ratify the orders placed on the city from last Friday under the new agreement between Spain’s Health Ministry and autonomous regional authorities.

Under the Health Ministry’s order, Madrid authorities barred residents from leaving the capital and nine other municipalities around it while they launched a legal appeal.

The Madrid regional court sided with the regional government in its ruling against ratifying the order, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it”.

The court decision effectively means that the new measures have no legal standing and that the police have no authority to impose fines on those who break confinement limits.

However, Madrid's regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso on Thursday urged all residents to remain within the city limits despite the bombshell court ruling.

“We ask people once again not to leave Madrid and to follow all the health recommendations, especially in the next few days given that there is a long weekend,” she said in a televised address on Thursday.

She promised to release a set of “sensible, fair and balanced” rules on Friday, to inform Madrileños of what they can and can’t do.

“Madrid’s businesses can’t carry on like this … Nobody understands the rules, nobody knows what is going on,” she said.

The restrictions had imposed a 14-day ban on people leaving the limits of the capital and nine other surrounding towns where instance of the virus is very high.

But the High Court still has to rule on whether or not to suspend the restrictions as a precautionary measure while it considers the Madrid government’s appeal.

The region has 10 days from the time it presented the appeal to file its arguments against the central government’s actions, which in turn will then have to be considered in a period of five days by judges.

Meanwhile Madrid city Mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, explained at a press conference that the court decision did not affect a raft of other restrictions which he said did not require legal ratification.

These include the limitations of social gatherings to no more than six people and the restrictions that limit occupation of bars and restaurants to half of their usual occupancy and closing times by 11pm.

But it is now not clear what which any of the new restrictions apply legally or if the previous restrictions of 45 “basic health zones” now come back into force as they were superseded by the Health Ministry orders.

The confusion generated by the ruling is the latest development in a political battle between the central government, a coalition of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and junior partner Unidas Podemos, and the regional government run by the conservative PP in coalition with centre-right Ciudadanos and with the support of far-right Vox.

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FACE MASKS

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

Masks will soon no longer be mandatory on public transport in Spain, 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 on January 26th that face masks would no longer be compulsory on public transport, a measure that has been in place in Spain for almost three years.  

She added that it would be approved at the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System on Tuesday, February 7th.  

Then on Thursday, February 2nd Darias elaborated further, confirming that as well as on public transport masks will not be required in health establishments such as opticians, hearing and orthopaedic centres, where they had been up until now.  

She said that they will, however, still be mandatory in all other health centres, pharmacies and hospitals, as well as in care homes.

The Spanish government will approve the measure on Tuesday February 7th and it will enter into force when it is published in the Official State Bulletin (BOE), which usually occurs the following day.

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

This means that most likely from February 8th masks will no longer be required on public transport, but you will still have to wear them in pharmacies and hospitals and doctors’ offices. 

The use of masks ceased to be mandatory outdoors 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. 

Covid-19 controls at airports in Spain

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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