From yesterday (Monday, 18th May) all remaining health departments in the three provinces of the Comunidad Valenciana – those in and around Valencia city, plus La Ribera and Sagunto (Valencia province), Alicante city, San Juan, and Elche and the two departments operating from Castellón city – are on ‘Phase 1’, meaning the whole of the region is now at this level.
However, the Spanish health ministry denied the Madrid regional government’s second request to join Phase 1 of relaxation of some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe.
Since it denied permission for such easing last week, people in and around the capital have been unable to meet up or enjoy a physically distanced alfresco drink or meal.
The president of the Madrid region Isabel Díaz Ayuso accused the Socialist-led coalition government of “taking advantage of the biggest crisis in Spain’s recent history to impose a single, dictatorial authority”.
The sentiment was been echoed on the streets of one of Madrid’s wealthiest and most exclusive barrio where people in the city’s Salamanca neighbourhood took to the streets to demand the government’s resignation and shout, “¡Libertad!”, or “Freedom!”
The protests have raised concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the area of Spain hit hardest by the pandemic. The Madrid region has accounted for 66,005 of Spain’s 230,183 Covid-19 cases to date and 8,809 of its 27,459 deaths.
The government has defended people’s right to protest, but called on them to behave responsibly. “Everyone’s always got the right to protest and even, if only for a short time, to make a lot of loud noise,” the science minister, Pedro Duque, said. “But the only thing we need to be careful about is that we’re in an epidemic situation, and so if you’re protesting, you need to maintain distances to avoid infection.”