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‘No guests at home’: Madrid tightens restrictions with new curfew and more confined zones

From Monday, Madrid will bring the curfew forward from midnight to 11pm and close restaurants and bars at 10pm as the region struggles to control a third wave of coronavirus infections.

'No guests at home': Madrid tightens restrictions with new curfew and more confined zones
Bars and restaurants must now close by 10pm. Photo: AFP

Deputy health chief, Antonio Zapatero announced on Friday that new confinement measures would come into force in a further 47 basic healthcare zones and 19 municipalities across the region from Monday.

Authorities also recommended that social gatherings within private homes be limited to those within one household only, although they are seeking legal measures to make it mandatory and called for people to wear facemasks “at all times”.

“We must not get together at home with people from other households,” said Antonio Zapatero, the deputy chief of Public Health in the Madrid region.

The measures will come into force at midnight on Sunday night and last for at least two weeks.

The number of daily new infections has soared across Madrid with the cumulative incidence rate over a 14 day period reaching 636 cases per 100,000 people from 390 cases in just two weeks,

This is above Spain’s average which has now risen to  523 cases per 100,000 people, health ministry data showed on Thursday, just short of the record high of 529 cases per 100,000 people recorded in November.

The Health Ministry registered 35,878 new infections overnight on Thursday while the death toll from the virus rose by 201 to the official count of 53,079.

Data shows that across Madrid 90 percent of basic healthcare zones (263 out of 285) have a cumulative incidence rate above the critical danger threshold of 400 cases per 100,000 population.

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 of each Basic Healthcare Zone within Madrid.

However, rather than force perimetral confinements on them all authorities have now changed the criteria to isolate only those with an incident rate above the Madrid average when combined with limitations of each healthzone.

To discover which areas are confined click on the map below: 

What are the restrictions? 

If you live within one of the restricted “basic health zones”  then you will as of Monday only be allowed to leave the zone to go to work, seek medical care or take their children to school or because of a “force majuere”.

All bars and restaurants will have to reduce their capacity by 50 percent, children's playgrounds will be closed.

Residents of the areas affected will be allowed to move around freely inside their zone but no one from outside will be allowed in unless they have justified cause. 

Permits

People who need to exit or enter a restricted zone must carry a form which they can download from the internet and fill out in order to justify their trip. These must be carried at all times and shown if required when stopped by police at the checkpoints.

They will have to fill out with ID number, address, place of work and reason for movement and must be signed by one's employer. 

They can be downloaded HERE.

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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