Most of Spain’s regions to close borders ahead of long weekend to halt Covid-19 spread

Most of Spain's regions to close borders ahead of long weekend to halt Covid-19 spread
Photo: AFP
Ten Spanish regions, including Madrid and Andalusia, have confirmed they will close their borders ahead of the All Saints' Day long weekend to try to halt a surge in coronavirus infections.

Seven more Spanish regions announced on Wednesday and Thursday they would close their borders ahead of the All Saints' Day long weekend to try to curb the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in their territories.

That takes the total to twelve – Andalucía, Asturias, Aragón, Cataluña, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Castilla y León, Castilla y La Mancha, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre and La Rioja.

The regional authorities of these autonomous communities have now confirmed a perimetral confinement in their regions for those dates (from at least Friday October 30th until Monday November 2nd or longer), measures that they can implement under the state of alarm declared on Sunday by Spain’s central government.

The North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla will also apply this form of lockdown over the All Saints long weekend.

The five regions that have just joined the perimetral confinement list are likely to bring the measure into force on late Thursday or Friday. 

In the Balearic Islands and the Valencia region there are localised travel lockdowns but not a closed border policy for the entire region.

Only the governments of the Canary Islands, Extremadura and Galicia have decided not to adopt the measure.

Madrid is among the territories that will be implementing a perimetral confinement, but is requesting to do so on a day-by-day basis and not for a week.

Spanish families traditionally visit the graves of loved ones on the November 1st holiday to leave flowers.

As this year the holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday has been declared a holiday to create a three-day weekend.

Some six million people traditionally travel to other parts of Spain during the All Saints' Day holiday weekend and as a result the regional government of Madrid plans to close the region's borders from Friday until November 2, said the head of the region's government, Isabel Diaz Ayuso.

“We are aware that we must continue to reduce social contacts,” she told a joint news conference with the heads of the neighbouring regions of Castilla y Leon and Castilla y La Mancha who said they would shut their borders until Monday November 9, a bank holiday in Madrid.

Separately, the coastal regions of Murcia in the southeast and Andalusia in the southwest, popular destinations for residents of inland cities like Madrid during long weekends, said they would also shut their borders from Friday until November 9.

The move means no one will be able to enter or leave the regions during this period except for essential reasons such as seeking medical care or going to work.

“The pandemic is growing exponentially,” said the leader of the northwestern Castilla and Leon region, Alfonso Fernandez Manueco.

“We have to adopt measures, drastic measures which at the same time are proportional.”

Three of Spain's 17 regions — Navarra, La Rioja and the Basque Country — have already closed their borders earlier this month. The Basque Country also started restricting travel between its municipalities on Monday. 

Since exiting a strict national lockdown in June, coronavirus cases in Spain have soared, with thousands of infections diagnosed every day.

Hospitalisations, though lower than their March-April peak, are also on the rise.

“It is more than likely that we will surpass the record of hospitalisations of the first wave and that this will happen in a few days,” the head of the regional government of Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, said in a televised address.

“As long as there is no effective treatment or vaccine against the coronavirus, we have no other way of trying to contain it than to limit people's movements.”

Spain last week became the first European Union nation to surpass one million confirmed Covid-19 infections, with the virus claiming more than 35,000 lives.

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