Spain mulls imposing Madrid emergency over lockdown chaos

MADRID (AFP) – Spain’s Cabinet discussed imposing a state of emergency in Madrid after judges overturned a partial lockdown that was opposed by the regional authorities yesterday.

Thursday’s bombshell decision in effect cancelled restrictions imposed on some 4.5 million people in and around the capital, where infections are rising sharply.

Madrid’s rightwing regional administration, which has responsibility for public healthcare, had strongly opposed the measures imposed on October 2 barring residents of the capital and nine nearby towns from leaving the city limits except for work, school or on medical grounds.

But the central government wants a swift resolution, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez calling an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday morning to mull the options.

The exact time of the meeting has not been announced.

Speaking to Madrid’s leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso late on Thursday, Sanchez said the region could issue an order validating the restrictions or ask the central government to impose a state of emergency to ratify the measures.

The third option was for the central government to impose such a measure, he told her, saying that in all three cases, the restrictions would remain the same.

In a tweet late on Thursday, Diaz Ayuso said she would hold talks “first thing in the morning” with her administration to consider the alternatives ahead of a meeting later in the day with Sanchez.

Sanchez travelled to Barcelona with King Felipe yesterday morning, with the Cabinet meeting chaired by Carmen Calvo, one of his deputies, Cadena Cope radio said.

Despite opposing the restrictions, the Madrid authorities urged residents to stay within the city limits, especially over the forthcoming three-day weekend for Spain’s National Day on October 12.

The court refused to ratify the restrictions on grounds they were imposed by the central government and not by the regional authorities.