Spain's far-right Vox party to challenge Madrid COVID curbs in court

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s far-right Vox party said it would lodge a court appeal against a partial lockdown imposed on Madrid, as thousands of police on Saturday enforced curbs intended to contain one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

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Vox leader Santiago Abascal also called for demonstrations against the restrictions, implemented on Friday by the government via a state of emergency.

“I have given instructions to appeal to the Constitutional Court (against) the illegal state of emergency,” he tweeted late on Friday.

Abascal’s move escalates a standoff between Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the conservative-led Madrid regional government, on which Vox holds 12 of 132 seats, and which argues that the government’s curbs are illegal and excessive and will spell disaster for the local economy.

The restrictions include a ban on leaving locked-down areas other than for work, school or medical reasons. Around 7,000 police were deployed on roads, rail stations and at airports to make sure 3.8 million people affected in the capital city and eight satellite towns abided by them, the interior ministry said.

The regional authorities, which support localised lockdowns, imposed less stringent curbs on Saturday on four satellite towns after infection rates there rose.

The government said rising infection rates across Madrid meant it was essential to lock down the entire city.

Some residents felt anger over the political bickering.

“I feel frustrated, deceived, I feel afraid because I see that we are in the middle of political disputes that lead nowhere,” Miguel Angel, 63, a Madrid resident, said.

The Madrid region had 723 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 8, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest cluster after Andorra.

Spain said on Friday it had recorded 861,112 coronavirus cases – the highest number in Western Europe – and 32,929 deaths.

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