After the region of Madrid saw COVID-19 cases spike over the weekend, the regional leader announced on Tuesday a number of new measures to control the virus’s spread without resorting to a lockdown.
President of Madrid Isabel Diaz Ayuso said social gatherings will be reduced to 10 people, both in public and private meetings.
The city’s famous nightlife will also be radically altered with all bars and nightclubs having to register guests, and close at 1:30 a.m. Normally, nightclubs in Madrid get busy at around 2 a.m. and stay open until at least 6 a.m.
Ayuso announced that masks will be made mandatory in all public spaces, indoor or outdoor, including outdoor terraces in Spain’s capital region. Previously, masks were only required when social distance could not be kept.
Every other Spanish region, with the exception of the Canary Islands, has already enforced similar measures in terms of mask-wearing.
The number of contact tracers in Madrid, a region of 6.6 million people, will also be doubled to 360 and “increased as needed,” according to the president.
Several reports suggest that even weeks ago Madrid was falling behind in terms of informing and isolating close contacts of those infected with COVID-19.
Ayuso said Madrid is developing immunity passports for people who have recovered from the infectious disease.
The latest figures from Spain’s Ministry of Health shows that the number of cases diagnosed in the last seven days in Madrid – 1,278 – has increased by around 250% compared to the weekly rate the week prior.
“These new measures are to impede us from going back, and to avoid, above anything else, another total lockdown,” she said.
For the moment, the northeastern regions of Catalonia and Aragon remain the most affected in post-lockdown Spain. However, the rapid increase in Madrid has triggered alarm bells that the densely populated region could again become a focal point of COVID-19 in the country.
Madrid was the worst-affected part of Spain during the country’s devastating first wave. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has seen nearly 43,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19, and at least 8,451 deaths.