The new restrictions against the covid approved this Wednesday by the Interterritorial Health Council have detonated the umpteenth disagreement between the communities and the Government. The decision to impose limitations on hospitality and nightlife until 70% of the Spanish population is vaccinated and those over 50 are immunized yesterday was rejected by six communities and this Thursday, at least three of them, Madrid, Andalusia and the Basque Country have insisted that they will not abide by the decision. The traffic light with alert levels and measures associated with leisure and hospitality, which until now functioned as a guide, will be mandatory, but the most critical autonomies see in this decision an invasion of skills. The Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, has asked to comply with the agreed measures: “I am not asking because it is an obligation, but because it suits us all.”
The decision agreed by the Interterritorial implies that, even in the best of epidemiological scenarios —when the incidence is less than 25 cases per 100,000, for example— nightlife has to close at 3.00 and the maximum number of people per table at the terrace of a bar is 10 people. The problem is that the new traffic light measures will force some communities, such as Madrid, to reverse their de-escalation. This autonomy, which follows the high risk with an incidence of 165 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, already applies measures that, according to the Health thermometer, would correspond to the new normal.
The acting president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, said this Thursday that she “does not count” for the restrictions that were approved yesterday. With these new protocols, Madrid would have to change its closing hours in hospitality, return to a maximum of six people per table on terraces, close the interiors of bars and restaurants, it could not open nightlife or host the friendly Spain against East Portugal Sunday at the Wanda Metropolitano. And Madrid is not willing to do so. The acting Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, has announced that the Community of Madrid is going to resort to restrictions on nightlife, because, as he argues, they have been taken “without any consensus or basis” and represent “a new outrage” of the Central government.
The regional government maintains that the Interterritorial measures are not mandatory if there is no unanimity in the vote. “It is not a question of rebellion because rebellion means going against the established norms and this norm is not mandatory and cannot be imposed. There has been no unanimity and, therefore, they are not obliged to comply with something that, in our opinion, is absolutely foolish and harmful ”, said Ayuso. The first part of your argument is correct: the council’s regulations establish that agreements have to be by consensus, that is, unanimously. The second is opinionated and based on the management of the pandemic that the autonomous government has carried out. Madrid is at high risk —that is, more than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants—, along with five other territories: Andalusia (177), Aragon (156), Melilla (181), Basque Country (198) and La Rioja (186) . With these figures, in addition to the 339 patients still admitted to their critical units in Madrid hospitals, Ayuso believes that the new traffic light is “a political imposition that is not sanitary and is arbitrary.”
And the Madrid leader is not the only regional leader who has taken a stand against this package of measures. The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, has denounced that the modifications proposed this Wednesday by Health involve an “invasion of competences” and show “absolute confusion” in the management of the health crisis by the central Government, for which he has assured that Euskadi “ it will follow its own roadmap ”and will keep the measures updated last Monday by the Basque institutions. The Department of Health of the Basque Government, in fact, did not participate in the debate or in the vote on the document presented by the ministry.
For its part, Andalusia has assured that it will not abide by the latest agreement of the Interterritorial Council for the moment after voting against the traffic light, considering that it should be a recommendation. “For now, the order of May 7 will continue to be carried out after the state of alarm,” warns a spokesman for the Board. In this rule, the Andalusian Government established that the hotel and catering establishments would open until midnight and the discos and nightlife until two in the morning, with a maximum capacity of eight people per table inside and 10 outside. According to the new traffic light, Andalusia, which is at high risk with 177 cases per 100,000, would have to close nightlife.
The Andalusian Minister of Health, Jesús Aguirre, considers that the new measures “do not add anything new” to those in force in Andalusia and criticizes the Government withdrawing the state of alarm without providing the communities with legal tools, and now wants to “adopt measures of autonomic competence ”. “It is not logical”, censures the counselor.
Catalonia, Andalusia, Galicia and Murcia also voted against the package of measures approved yesterday by the Interterritorial Council. “We are going to study it in detail with the legal advice to analyze the binding nature and if it invades regional powers”, protested the Galician Health Minister, Julio García Comesaña. The Xunta has clarified, however, that “it will respect the measures that are mandatory, even if it does not share them.”
29.5 of the 47.5 million inhabitants in Spain live in the six critical autonomies. Castilla y León and Melilla abstained and the rest voted in favor. A majority that does not seem legitimate to Ayuso. “It makes no sense at this point after not having done anything during the pandemic, now that the figures are for all of Spain much better try to impose these rules that directly threaten the normality of a meeting such as the EBAU or the Ifema fairs or the weddings themselves ”. The Junta de Castilla y León has also warned the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, that if she publishes the declaration of coordinated actions against the covid that affect, among other issues, nightlife hours, approved without the consensus of all the autonomous communities , will appeal them legally and request precautionary measures.
Iceta has not wanted to anticipate what the central government is going to do in the face of the refusal of several autonomies to apply the approved restrictions, and will wait for all the leaders of the autonomous communities to read the measures in the Official State Gazette. “Then we can read it all black on white without any confusion,” he said.
Balearic Islands without nightlife
According to a Health spokesperson, the declaration of coordinated actions that are mandatory and that will be published in the BOE are “minimum” agreements. That is, a community can toughen them if it considers it appropriate, but never make them more flexible if it does not meet the epidemiological requirements of the traffic light. The Balearic Islands, for example, is one of the communities that will have more restrictive limitations than what was agreed upon: this community voted in favor of the agreement approved in the Interterritorial and is in a favorable epidemiological situation —at low risk, with 38 cases per 100,000—, the regional government has announced will not allow the opening of nightlife. The Government of the islands will approve this Friday a plan for the celebration of cultural and sports activities in the open air for the next two weeks and will work on a de-escalation plan for the sector. The Minister of Health, Patricia Gómez, affirms that the archipelago “plays a lot” and the “amount of leisure” of the Balearic Islands is not comparable with that of other autonomous communities.
Pending the final publication of the measures in the BOE and the final step taken by the communities that threaten not to comply, the Valencian president, Ximo Puig, has charged against critical autonomies. “There are autonomous communities that have permanently gone against the leadership in this process. We discuss within the Interterritorial Council, the Minister of Health always makes proposals and participates, but in the end we are aware that citizens deserve respect and that we have the least possible discrepancies so that there is unity of action against the pandemic. Some permanently put the flag of Spain as if they were the most Spanish in the world and at the moment of truth they do not agree with the rest of Spain ”.
With information from Lucía Bohórquez, Pedro Gorospe, Ferran Bono and Javier Martín-Arroyo.