Misc 20/01/2021

A puzzle of restrictions: State of alarm falls short

Communities struggle to extend curfew but Health Minister maintains current decree is enough

Mariona Ferrer I Fornells
3 min
El Govern tanca bars i restaurants.

MadridIn the map of restrictions in Spain due to the third wave of the coronavirus, there is room for few measures other than home lockdown. The increase in infections, which has overcome those of the second wave, with a cumulative incidence per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days of up to 714 cases - but in communities like Extremadura, of 1,412 - has forced the communities to squeeze the maximum out of the measures contained in the current State of alarm, in force since October. The governments of Castilla y León, Andalusia and Galicia (governed by the PP) have campaigned to be able to decree home lockdown as in spring and, if this is not possible, at least to advance the night curfew to 8 pm or 6 pm, a proposal which has been joined by governments of other political colours such as that of Catalonia, provided that powers are maintained.

This debate will be resolved this Wednesday in a new telematic meeting of the Interterritorial Council of Health. The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has opened the door to advance the curfew to 20 h, but he subordinates this decision to the approval of a new State of alarm or to extend the current one, and that it is voted by Parliament - thus obliging the PP to rethink its "critical abstention" of the State alarm decree extension. In any case, the Moncloa maintains that the current State of alarm is sufficient to bend the curve of the third wave. Furthermore, it recalls that in this case there is a "therapeutic weapon", the Pfizer vaccine, which in a few days will have already immunized the first care homes that received the doses. Fernando Simón, the head epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, maintains that we must wait for the effects of the new restrictions and points to a slight decrease in the rate of growth of infections despite the critical situation.

Madrid, at the tail end in measures

Since the end of the Christmas holidays, the communities have multiplied their restrictions. The day after the Epiphany it could seem that Catalonia was the area with the most severe measures due to the closure of shops at the weekend, but the decision of Castilla-La Mancha to close all hotels and non-essential shops has marked a path for the rest of the communities, according to epidemiological indicators. The Valencian Country also decided on Tuesday to close bars and restaurants and shops from 18 h, Daniel Martín reports.

The trend is as follows: reduce private meetings from six to four people - Catalonia has done so only in the hospitality industry -, advance curfew to 22 h - and if it could be earlier, at 20 h -, the perimentral lockdown of all municipalities and, finally, close all shops that are not essential, as well as bars and restaurants.

On the other side of the coin, however, is Madrid. Despite having a higher cumulative incidence than Catalonia, a higher hospital pressure, and standing at 42.1% in ICU pressure, five points less than Catalonia, the only measure that it has taken is to advance curfew from 00 h to 23 h and close hotels at 22 h (until last Sunday they could close at midnight), in addition to continuing to confine by areas of neighborhoods and municipalities with high incidence. Unlike her party colleagues, the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, refuses to advance the curfew. "Do not count on me to ruin even more the hospitality industry in Spain", she said yesterday. This Wednesday the debate will crystallize in the Interterritorial Council and Illa will have to decide whether to expand the State of alarm or not.