Spain to impose tougher measures in infection hotspots

Madrid, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- The Spanish government is set to approve new criteria that would trigger partial lockdowns in areas with high coronavirus infection rates as the number of daily cases continues to soar, especially in the capital.

Local authorities would be required to enforce tougher restrictions if they have a coronavirus incidence rate above 500 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, a PCR test positivity rate above 10 percent and more than 35 percent of ICU beds are taken by Covid-19 patients, health minister Salvador Illa told a press conference Wednesday.

Any municipality that meets all three criteria would be obliged to enforce localized lockdowns, meaning residents can only leave the area for work and school or other essential reasons such as to care for a dependent or visit the doctor.

The 10 regions set to be affected are all in the region of Madrid and include the metropolitan area.

The health minister said the new rules will be published in a state bulletin in the coming days.

According to the health ministry’s earlier proposal the new measures would see children’s play parks shut, while bars and restaurants would have to reduce their capacity to 50 percent inside and 60 percent in outside dining areas.

These premises would also have to close at 11pm.

Commercial centers and shops would have to reduce their capacity to 50 percent and close by 10pm.

The proposed measures were debated at an inter-territorial health committee, which brought together regional healthcare representatives, the sector is devolved in Spain, and the central government.

It was the result of a government concession in its negotiations with regional authorities in Madrid, which has the highest infection rate in Spain at 784.1 per 100,000.

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