Madrid region introduces new COVID-19 restrictions

Getty Images  Tomohiro Ohsumi  Stringer

Vallecas, a southern district with a lower average income and higher immigrant population, has one of the highest infection rates in the Spanish capital - nearly six times higher than in Chamberi, a wealthier, northern district.

Spain has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe, and Madrid is again the worst-hit region.

Parts of the Spanish capital Madrid will be put under lockdown restrictions to curb a rise in COVID-19, authorities announced on Saturday.

But he stressed he was not contemplating a national lockdown.

Several low-income districts of southern Madrid have counted more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants - around five times the national average, which in itself is the highest in the European Union Since the central government ended its state of emergency on June 21, lifting all lockdown restrictions, responsibility for public healthcare and managing the pandemic has been left in the hands of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

The restrictions affect around 860,000 people who won't be able to leave their neighborhoods except for work, study or a medical appointment.

They will be allowed to move around freely inside their zone but no one from outside will be allowed in unless absolutely essential.

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Restaurants and bars will be limited to 50 percent capacity and will have to close by 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, gatherings of more than six people will be banned in the entire region, down from ten now.

Under new rules that take effect on midnight at Monday and will apply for an initial period of two weeks, people can only exit or enter the affected areas for work, education, health or similar reasons.

Hundreds gathered in the districts concerned and outside the regional parliament to shout their displeasure. Other parts of the United Kingdom are also imposing restrictions.

They also called for the resignation of Madrid regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who attracted criticism for saying this week "the way of life of immigrants" was partly to blame for the rise in cases. These will be used to triage incoming COVID-19 patients and to take the pressure off emergency wards.

As such, experts fear a sharp increase in the regional mortality rate - which is now much lower than in the spring - over the coming weeks.

Spain on Thursday added more than 11,000 new infections and registered 162 new confirmed deaths for the new virus.

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