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Coronavirus: Demonstrations in Madrid ahead of Monday’s tough new lockdown measures

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Protesters have taken to the streets of Madrid to demonstrate against strict new lockdown measures which have come into force.

Thousands of men, women and children rallied in the southern districts of the Spanish capital.

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Madrid is the worst affected city in Europe's worst affected country
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Madrid is the worst-affected city in Europe’s worst-affected country

From today, they are not be allowed to leave the areas they live in, except to go to work and for emergency medical treatment.

The new COVID-19 measures have been introduced by the Spanish government as infection rates exceed one in 100 people in some of Madrid’s worst-affected areas in the city and its outskirts, home to around 850,000 people.

The lockdown measures predominantly apply to areas of lower income and with higher immigrant populations. Peaceful protests were held in 12 of the 37 districts affected on Sunday.

About 600 people demonstrated in the southern district of Vallecas, which has one of the highest infection rates in the Spanish capital – about six times higher than that of Chamberi, a wealthy area in the north of the city, according to regional government figures.

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Protesters in the Vallecas neighbourhood demonstrate against the measures
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Protesters in the Vallecas neighbourhood demonstrate against the measures

“We need to protest because of what they’re doing right now in the various southern neighbourhoods – they are taking us and confining us,” one demonstrator told Sky News.

“The community isn’t doing anything for us,” said another.

“They want to be paid by the people of this neighbourhood. It isn’t fair. We are lacking doctors. We have to reinforce the health services and reinforce the public health services. This isn’t fair, it isn’t fair.”

At one stage it looked like the protest might turn violent when the riot police blocked access to a government building, but the demonstration ended peacefully.

The Spanish health system reported an average of 10,000 new cases per day last week and almost 250 deaths in one day. It puts the country around six weeks ahead of the UK on current projections.

The new measures come into for on Monday
Image:
The new measures have come into force

Others are in favour of tougher restrictions, with worshippers at a Sunday mass in Madrid more sympathetic to the government’s measures.

One said: “It is necessary because the people are very irresponsible.

“If it was in my hands I would confine all of Spain to end this. This is because the people do not collaborate with the government safety measures. There are many who just don’t care.”

A young food bank volunteer also told us: “On the one hand, it is better to have confinement as many people go out in the street without reason.

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“But for the people who need to work, it is going to be complicated. But well, we have to do everything to stop the pandemic.”

Madrid is the worst-affected city in Europe’s worst-affected country.

Although some oppose the new lockdown, and it will certainly have an economic impact, many hope this will finally bend the curve.

 

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