Madrid refuses new Covid lockdown as leader says 'people get run over every day, but we don't ban cars'
MADRID has rejected calls for a new coronavirus lockdown as hospitalisations hit 350 a day amid a surge in cases.
City authorities have dismissed calls to once again shut down the capital despite pressure from national Spanish health chiefs.
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Madrid city chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso has said the solution to the virus is "not total confinement" as she demanded more action, not restrictions, to beat the virus.
Spanish TV channel Antena 3 described the city authorities as on a "war footing" with the national government in the row.
It came as new restrictions were imposed on shops, restaurants and parks as Spain recently recorded its highest daily death toll since May.
Ms Ayuso has previously argued "people get run over every day but that doesn't mean we ban cars" as she opposed full lockdown.
Protesters hit the streets outside Madrid's regional parliament over the weekend as they demanded an end to restrictions.
Spain as a whole as seeing an average of 350 people going into hospital every 24 hours.
Madrid saw nearly 18,000 new cases last week and more than 40 per cent of intensive care beds and now filled with patients battling the virus.
Health minister Salvador Illa has advised any city with a coronavirus rate of more than 500 cases per 100,000 to shut down.
Madrid already has more than 700, but the regional government have refused to back down.
Ms Ayuso said she will only close the city other qualifying locations in Spain follow and the government rolls out Covid testing at rail stations and Barajas Airport.
"We are ruining ourselves, we have to go to creative intermediate formulas. Madrid cannot be confined," she said.
"We have implemented all possible measures so that life continues because we are an economic engine and Madrid cannot be stopped."
She urged the national government to "trust Madrid" and assured the city doing "everything it has in its power" to control the virus.
Ms Ayuos also accused the government of back tracking on private discussions the two sides shared last week.
Health minister Illa admitted all the government can do is give recommendations and its up to the local authorities to implement them.
Speaking on Saturday, he said: "We’re very worried about the situation in the Madrid region, where there’s a serious healthcare risk not only for the people there, but also those in neighbouring regions.
"It’s time for proper action and to take control of the pandemic in Madrid with the aim of flattening the curve."
Spain was one of the worst impacted nations in Europe during the first wave in March and April – with a total of 735,198 cases and 31,232 deaths.
Nationwide the country saw more than 10,000 cases and almost 1,000 deaths a day at the peak of the pandemic.
Figures however have already hit 11,588 daily cases on September 18 before dipping off to around 5,000.
Many nations in Europe are seeing flares in coronavirus case counts going into the autumn and winter, including Britain.
The World Health Organisation warned Europe is facing a "very serious situation" as new cases doubled in more than half the countries in the EU.
Regional director Hans Kluge added: "We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again."
However, he admitted the increase in cases is partly down to more comprehensive testing – but said it was still a "wake-up call".
Many nations are desperately trying to avoid imposing draconian measures which crippled their economies.
Nationwide lockdowns triggered the worst economic downturn worldwide since the Great Depression – with it forecast to shrink to 4.5 per cent in 2020.
Yet lockdown-shunning Sweden has hailed its herd immunity plan as "vindicated" with just 1.3 per cent of residents testing positive.
However, scientists estimate that national lockdowns may have saved millions of lives in Europe alone.
A study by Imperial College London assessed the impact of restrictions in 11 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK up to the start of May.
It estimated some 3.2million people would have died if not for measures telling people to stay home and closing businesses.
Britain is now facing a tough winter as new restrictions have been rolled out amid warnings a second lockdown – with anger mounting over the "idiotic" 10pm curfew.
The Government is battling to keep the economy open as government scientists alarmingly warn without action the UK could face 50,000 cases a day by October.
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