Tag: Curbs

Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID-19 curbs on city

By Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro

MADRID (Reuters) – A Madrid court on Thursday struck down a government order imposing a partial coronavirus lockdown on the Spanish capital, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities just before a long holiday weekend.

Under the Health Ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area, including nine satellite towns, without a valid reason, and imposed other measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

Regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it”.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid, with its usually bustling restaurants and bars, had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision. The government can appeal.

Welcoming the court’s decision, Ayuso nevertheless urged Madrilenos to stay home over the upcoming Hispanic Day weekend that usually sparks mass holiday travel across Spain.

She promised to release a set of “sensible, fair and balanced” rules on Friday, meaning capital residents may still face more restrictions in a country where the government forecasts GDP will fall 11.2% in 2020.

“Madrid’s businesses can’t carry on like this … Nobody understands the rules, nobody knows what is going on,” she said during a televised address.

Under the law, the Spanish government can limit fundamental rights by imposing a state of emergency, as it did nationwide for three months starting in March, but it is up to the regions, which control health policy, to request such measures on a more local scale outside of an emergency.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who described the situation in Madrid as “concerning”, told reporters in Algeria his government would study the court ruling and decide how to proceed after a meeting with the Madrid authorities.

The region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

Spain reported 12,423 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the national tally up to 848,324 – the highest in Western Europe. Deaths rose by 126 to 32,688.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo; Additional reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID curbs on city

MADRID (Reuters) – A Madrid court on Thursday struck down a government order imposing a partial lockdown on the city and nine satellite towns, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities.

Under the health ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area without a valid reason, and imposed other restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 contagion in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

But regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it.”

In an initial reaction from the government – which can appeal the ruling – Health Minister Salvador Illa said he had not yet had time to study it.

“We will take the legal decisions that best protect health. We are sure that the Community of Madrid will agree with this approach. We do not care much about anything but citizens’ health,” he told a parliamentary committee without specifying further.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision.

The Madrid region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet)

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Italian government set to impose new curbs to tackle COVID-19 resurgence

ROME (Reuters) – The Italian government will likely impose new restrictions on the country in the coming week to try to beat back rising numbers of coronavirus cases, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday.

The cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to decide how to respond to an increase in infections, with southern Italian regions for the first time looking vulnerable to the disease.

“The battle isn’t over. We don’t have the numbers seen in other European countries … but we are in a phase of significant growth and I hope the country finds a spirit of unity,” Speranza told state broadcaster RAI.

The measures under review include making the wearing of masks obligatory outdoors across the whole country and re-introducing curbs on social gatherings.

“Masks are fundamental. The more we can get them used by Italians the better it will be,” said Speranza. Mask-wearing is currently compulsory in just five of Italy’s 20 regions, mainly in the south.

Italy registered 2,844 new cases on Saturday, the highest number since the end of April, when the country was under a nationwide lockdown. Officials are alarmed by flare-ups in the south, with the region of Campania, centred on Naples, seeing more than 400 new infections a day for the first time.

To help keep control and ensure social distancing rules are respected, the interior ministry said on Saturday that soldiers might be deployed alongside police in some hotspots.

However, Speranza said the most important thing was for people to take direct responsibility for their actions.

“We can’t have the police checking every single person,” he said, adding that the government was working “night and day” to avoid a return to a full lockdown.

“A generalised lockdown would have a cultural, economic and social cost the country cannot afford,” he said.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed by COVID-19 and has the sixth highest death toll in the world, with almost 36,000 people dying since the outbreak flared in February. As of Saturday, it had registered 322,751 cases.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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Israeli minister quits government over COVID-19 curbs on protests

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s tourism minister resigned on Friday in protest at a new law that curbed demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the measure left him without a “shred of trust” in the veteran leader.

Asaf Zamir will be replaced by Orit Farkash Hacohen, a fellow member of the Blue and White party, a party spokeswoman said.

“My conscience does not allow me to stay in a government that prevents de facto protests,” Zamir said on Facebook. “Even at its most difficult time, Netanyahu runs the country according to his own political interest.”

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, which forged a coalition government with Blue and White in May after a close election, called Zamir’s resignation an attempt to shore up support from liberal Israelis angry with the premier. Blue and White is led by Defence Minister Benny Gantz, a Netanyahu rival.

“Blue and White are sitting in a government while working against the government. It is time for them to decide whether to fight the disease, or fight the government,” Likud said on Twitter.

Netanyahu has been facing protests over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Parliament on Wednesday approved a government-backed edict banning Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their homes, tightening a second-wave coronavirus lockdown.

The government said it was aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections, but critics said its intention was to block protests near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Dozens protested in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Police said 12 were arrested over “public disturbances”.

Opinion polls show only about a quarter of the public has confidence in Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic, which had largely subsided during a March-May lockdown.

New COVID-19 cases in Israel have risen above 7,000 a day among its 9 million population, overtaxing some hospitals.

(This story corrects spelling of tourism minister’s first name)

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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Minister Quits Israeli Government Over COVID-19 Curbs on Protests | World News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli minister resigned on Friday in protest against a new law that curbed demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the measure left him without a “shred of trust” in the veteran leader.

In a Facebook post, Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir said: “My conscience does not allow me to stay in a government that prevents de facto protests.”

“Even at its most difficult time, Netanyahu runs the country according to his own political interest,” said Zamir, a member of the Blue and White party led by defence minister and prominent Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz.

For months, Netanyahu has faced domestic protests against his handling of the coronavirus crisis and over allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Parliament on Wednesday approved a government-backed edict banning Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their homes, tightening a second-wave coronavirus lockdown that went into effect on Sept. 18.

The government said it was aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections, but critics said its intention was to block protests near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Israelis have continued their protests, though in smaller numbers. Dozens protested in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Police said they had arrested 12 demonstrators who they said had caused “public disturbances”.

Opinion polls show only about a quarter of the public has confidence in the way Netanyahu has dealt with the pandemic, which had largely subsided during a March-May lockdown.

New COVID-19 cases in Israel have climbed to over 7,000 a day among its 9 million population, overtaxing some hospitals.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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