Almost a million people have to submit to new restriction measures by covid-19 in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, the region most affected in this second wave of the epidemic throughout Europe.
The measures, which will be effective as of this Monday, affect 13 percent of the population in 37 different locations in the capital. The parks and gardens will be closed, the capacity will be cut in half and the meetings will be limited to a maximum of six people. In principle, these limitations will be in effect for 14 days.
The president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, announced the decision on Friday afternoon, after scuffles with the central government.
The management of the covid-19 crisis has been completely politicized, Diaz Ayuso is part of the Popular Party (PP, right-wing), in the opposition, while the president is a member of the Spanish Social Workers Party (Psoe, moderate left).
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Since the middle of the week it was known that the region had to take action on the matter, because the situation worsened at high speeds (although it is far from suffering a situation like the one experienced in March and April).
On Thursday alone, 1,301 positive cases were reported, almost a third of the country’s total, which stands at 4,541. In the rest of Spain, coronavirus patients occupy 8.6 percent on average, while in Madrid it increases to 21 percent.
Units designed to care for critical cases in hospitals in the region are already 64 percent full. More than 3,000 infected people begin to displace patients with other pathologies and have forced the cancellation of non-urgent operations.
The management of the coronavirus crisis in Madrid has been in the eye of the hurricane since the epidemic arrived in Spain. It is the most populated area, with eight million people: the nerve center of the country. It is the heart of Spain’s roads and railways, the headquarters of the country’s main airport and the workplace of millions of people who commute every day from neighboring regions.
During the de-escalation phases after the general deconfinity, in June, the region took the rudder and ended up skipping some steps. It passed to the so-called new normal, with social permissiveness (it was the last region to make the use of masks mandatory) and without complying with some requirements, such as the reinforcement of primary care (public clinics before going to hospitals or, precisely, to avoid reaching them).
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Another determining factor for the increase in infections has been the lack of trackers to track the contacts of infected people. It was necessary to turn to the army and the private sector, and even so it lags behind the rate of infections.
What they are telling us is that we have to go to work crossing the entire city in a crowded subway, we have to go clean the houses of the people from the north of the city
The new restrictions apply in several of the less favored areas of Madrid. Infections have risen since July in neighborhoods with low incomes, overcrowding, precarious jobs or jobs and few telework options. Among those places are Puente de Vallecas, Villaverde and Usera, where thousands of Colombians live.
Enrique Villalobos, president of the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid, points out that “what they are telling us is that we have to go to work across the entire city in a crowded subway, we have to go clean people’s houses from the north of the city, but then the weekend while they go to the Sierra (where the farms are), we have to stay at home locked up”.
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He hopes that they will implement “practices aimed at fighting the virus and not stigmatizing the people of the southern neighborhoods.” He also denounces that neighborhood businesses will be affected.
This Monday Díaz Ayuso and President Sánchez will meet at noon. It is a long-awaited appointment, which did not materialize because it could be interpreted as a transfer of space and power. In the end, the reality of the pandemic once again prevails over other considerations.
JUANITA SAMPER OSPINA
EL TIEMPO correspondent