About 850,000 Madrid residents living in some of the capital region’s poorest areas were under new restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus on Monday, one day after residents there called the measures unfair and discriminatory.
The restrictions were announced by regional President Isabel Díaz Ayuso on Friday.
Starting Monday, residents in 37 parts of the capital and surrounding area are allowed to leave their neighborhoods only to go to work or school or for medical reasons.
Business hours and the size of groups allowed to meet are also restricted.
Each of the affected areas — mostly in relatively poor parts of the capital, and many of them home to migrant communities — had crossed a threshold of 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents within two weeks.
Local officials said they relied on epidemiological models to select the areas. The El Pais newspaper reported the 37 areas account for 25 percent of all coronavirus cases in the region, whereas less than 20 percent of the regional population lives there.
But residents who took to the streets across a dozen affected areas over the weekend accused the conservative regional government of failing to adequately fund hospitals and to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus infections, even though Madrid was one of the world’s worst-hit cities in the spring.
Ayuso also singled out “the way of life of immigrants in Madrid” for the recent surge in infections, further aggravating concerns among residents who say the latest restrictions are discriminatory.
“Instead of protecting and looking after the most vulnerable people in our city and seeing to it that they didn’t suffer the highest infection rates, [Madrid authorities] have instead opted for stigmatization, exclusion and territorial discrimination,” a protest manifesto said, according to the Guardian.