Growing pressure on Spanish government to decree total lockdown
Castilla y Leon and Andalucía, governed by the PP, push for the measure which Health Ministry rejects
MadridAs time goes on and the curves of infections, hospitalisations and deaths continue rising, anticipating a third wave of the covid-19 pandemic that could be harsher than the second, there is growing pressure from regions on Pedro Sánchez to either re-decree total lockdown or allow the regions to do it themselves. Andalucía was the first to suggest it last Wednesday, and this Thursday Castilla y León joined in, while Asturias - with the lowest incidence of contagion per 100,000 inhabitants and with a scrupulous prevention programme - proposes that the population confine itself. Castilla y León and Andalucía are both governed by the PP with support from Ciudadanos, whilst Asturias is governed by the Socialist party.
The vice-president of the Junta de Castilla y León, Francisco Igea (Ciudadanos), has demanded that the Spanish government reconsider the option of total lockdown because it is "reasonable" to think that this possibility may be necessary "within a few days" if the contagion curve continues to rise as in recent days. During the press conference after the community's governing council, Igea announced that they will implement new restrictive measures, such as "recommending" that citizens stay at home "except to go to work" and that they avoid meetings with non-cohabitants. With an incidence of 539 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than that of Catalonia, Castilla y León has banned restaurants and bars from serving clients indoors, and only allows take-aways or outdoor seating.
Igea joins Jesús Aguirre, head of Andalucía's Health Department who asked the Spanish Minister of Health, Salvador Illa to consider implementing a total lockdown, as well as the possibility of bringing forward the night-time curfew to 9pm to force everyone except those at work to be at home earlier. Today, Andalucía's president, Juanma Moreno, asked the Andalusians to stay at home "as much as possible" and act "with common sense" before the third wave, since the growth of infection is "explosive". Since Monday, a series of measures have come into force, including the closure of restaurants at 6 pm and cafes and shops at 8 pm.
These measures in communities governed by the PP contrast with the decisions of the Spanish capital, which still does not apply restrictions in the hospitality industry and maintains a night curfew that does not begin until midnight. The Spanish capital is already the third territory of the state with the highest cumulative incidence after Extremadura and Murcia. It is also experiencing high pressure on ICUs, with over 40% of them taken by covid patients. This, however, uses the maximum number of beds available during the first wave, including operating rooms and other spaces, as a benchmark; if it were compared to regular ICU capacity before the pandemic, the figure would be over 90%.
The Valencian president, Ximo Puig, has also called for citizens to stay at home. Puig, however, believes lockdown will not be necessary, in line with other Socialist officials. Illa claims that "the experience of having defeated a second wave with a strategy that has worked" serves as precedent. "If the same strategy is applied, we will achieve the same result," he added. The central government is sticking to the measures it approved on 25 October, in the middle of the second wave, which allow communities to impose a night curfew and close all or part of their territory, as Catalonia is doing by municipality. "Both within the response plan and in the coordinated actions, there are quite tough measures which the state of alarm allows", said the Minister of Territorial Policy, Carolina Darias. Darias has recently been taking over as acting Minister of Health, since Illa will soon leave his post to run for president in the Catalan elections.