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Protests in Madrid ahead of new lockdown

2020-09-21 HKT 05:38
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  • Protests in Madrid ahead of new lockdown
Protesters in some poorer areas of Madrid that are facing lockdown to stem a soaring Covid-19 infection rate took to the streets on Sunday to call for better health provisions, complaining of discrimination by the authorities.

Madrid's regional government on Friday ordered a lockdown from Monday in some of the poorer areas of the city and its outskirts that are home to about 850,000 people after a surge in coronavirus cases there.

The lockdown measures predominantly apply to areas of lower income and with higher immigrant populations. Peaceful protests were held in 12 of the 37 districts affected on Sunday.

About 600 people demonstrated in the southern district of Vallecas, which has one of the highest infection rates in the Spanish capital – about six times higher than that of Chamberi, a wealthy area in the north of the city, according to regional government figures.

Tensions rose as protesters at one stage threatened to gain access to the regional government building.

"It is illogical that you can go and do things in wealthier areas, but you cannot do the same in Vallecas. There is the same risk of contagion. They are discriminating," said Begona Ramos, 56, a protester, who is self-employed and lives in Vallecas.

Demonstrators chanted, "Vallecas is not a ghetto".

They also called for the resignation of Madrid regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who attracted criticism for saying this week that "the way of life of immigrants" was partly to blame for the rise in cases.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martínez-Almeida said the measures did not discriminate against the poor.

"There are no first class residents and second class residents. We have to be together at this moment," he tweeted.

Authorities in Madrid, which accounts for a third of all infections in Spain, announced the restrictions in areas where the contagion levels exceed 1,000 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In those areas access to parks and public areas will be restricted, gatherings will be limited to six people, and commercial establishments will have to close by 10pm. (Reuters)