The Spanish government enacted a state of emergency for the Madrid region on Friday, overriding Madrid’s own regional politicians, who had limited certain parts of the city to stop a second wave of Covid-19.
The government decided to use its emergency powers to lock down Madrid after a severe legal defeat on Thursday when Madrid’s supreme regional court ruled its previous efforts to isolate Madrid from the rest of Spain illegal.
The intense feud between the government and the Madrid regional administration shows that Spanish politicians have been unable to coordinate their response to the coronavirus, given the polarization and fragmentation of the parties.
At a cabinet meeting on Friday, the government decided that the state of emergency should go into effect immediately to prevent some 4.8 million residents of the Madrid region from leaving for a long weekend as Monday is a public holiday in Spain. The police were expected to set up new checkpoints at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Enrique Ruiz Escudero, Madrid’s regional health minister, said his government would “ask every day to lift the state of emergency because the numbers support us”, insisting that the lockdown of certain neighborhoods is enough to contain the recent wave of Covid-19 in Madrid.
Madrid residents, he added, “will not understand the central government’s intervention given the recent improvement in Madrid’s Covid-19 data”. According to the regional government, the number of Covid-19 patients in Madrid hospitals has dropped from 3,300 on September 21, when selective locks were introduced, to around 2,800. However, Madrid’s lockdown strategy also sparked social tensions, as the restrictions mainly affected poorer areas of Madrid.