Madrid to obey new virus rules but will fight them in court

International

An elderly woman lines up for a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 in the southern neighbourhood of Vallecas in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Madrid has a rate of infection 2.5 times higher than the national average, which is already three times the European average, including the UK. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

MADRID (AP) — Madrid will carry out a national order restricting mobility in large Spanish cities with rapid virus spread but its regional president announced Thursday she will fight the Spanish government’s resolution in the courts because she deems it arbitrary.

Spain’s official gazette on Thursday published the Health Ministry order that gives the country’s 19 regions two days to implement limits on social gatherings and shop opening hours and restricts trips in and out of any large cities that have recorded a 2-week infection rate of 500 cases per 100,000 residents.

Countrywide, only Madrid and nine of its suburban towns met the criteria as of Thursday.

Spain’s central government and regional officials in Madrid have been at odds for weeks over how to respond to the pandemic while the spread of the virus in the Spanish capital surged to the highest level in Europe’s second wave of infections.

The center-right Madrid government has resisted the stricter measures in the city of 3.3 million and its suburbs for fears of damaging the economy. Regional chief Isabel Díaz Ayuso also claims that Spain’s national left-wing coalition is targeting Madrid for political reasons and disregarding her efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“This government is not in rebellion,” she said Thursday, pledging to comply with the national order but adding that she would take it to court “to defend the legitimate interests of the people of Madrid so that the measures conform to the regulations, to the reality, so they are objective and fair.”

Speaking at the regional assembly, Díaz Ayuso said her challenge was to avoid a “return to the queues of hunger and unemployment” that she blamed on the national Socialist government.

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