Madrid, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- Thousands of residents of neighborhoods in south Madrid took to the streets on Sunday to protest new restrictions to stem a recent spike of coronavirus infections that protesters say are discriminatory.
From Monday, close to a million people in six districts in the Spanish capital and another seven municipalities in the area will be banned from leaving these zones, which are home to 13 percent of Madrid’s population and a quarter of the city’s infections, except to travel to work or other essential activities.
Gatherings will be limited to six people, shops, bars and restaurants will be only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, and one million tests will be carried out in the affected areas.
“The measures are bad and late, as always, and they are not enough. If they had been taken earlier, I think everyone in Madrid would be better off,” Alejandro, a resident of Villa de Vallecas, tells Efe.
“If you keep taking the metro to go to work and you’re squashed like sardines, the infections won’t stop,” he adds. “But we all have to work together, not by neighborhoods.”
Other residents of Vallecas, the district with the highest infection rate – 1,903.96 per 100,000 people – told Efe that boosting severely underfunded and understaffed local health services is fundamental and much needed.
The new measures come after several weeks of Madrid authorities reporting the highest number of new coronavirus cases in Spain, more than three times higher than other areas of the country.
The spike has put more pressure on the city’s precarious healthcare system, with 64 percent of ICUs occupied with Covid-19 patients.
The latest figures published by officials on Friday placed Madrid ahead of all other Spanish regions, with 1,553 new cases reported in the previous 24 hours, and as one of the worst affected capital cities in the world. EFE-EPA