Residents of infection hotspot Madrid are to be barred from leaving except on essential trips under new rules to fight the coronavirus resurgence, Spain’s government said on Wednesday.But regional authorities said the decision had no legal basis, setting the stage for a political showdown in an area accounting for more than a third of Spain’s 133,604 new cases in the past two weeks.”Madrid’s health is Spain’s health. Madrid is special,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference to announce the new regulations, due to come into force in days. The capital city, with more than 3 million people, and nine surrounding municipalities with at least 100,000 inhabitants each, are to see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, the government said.People would be allowed to cross boundaries for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping, but not for leisure.Other measures include the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m., from a previous curfew of 1 a.m., as well as shutting parks and playgrounds.Social gatherings will be limited to six people. Madrid has 735 cases per 100,000 people, one of the highest of any region in Europe and double Spain’s national rate.The conservative regional assembly had already enforced localized lockdowns in 45, mostly poor districts, often with a high immigrant population.But the wider restrictions announced by Illa see the Socialist-led central government override the regional authority after weeks of fighting over what should be done.”The decision is not valid legally,” regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero repeatedly told a news conference of the lockdown plan, even though the local authorities had seemingly accepted some steps on Tuesday. “The Spanish government is in a hurry to intervene in Madrid but not to defeat the virus.”Escudero did not specify what measures regional authorities may take to oppose the lockdown.Political polarization over the pandemic has exasperated people in Spain, which has recorded 769,188 cases – the highest in Western Europe – and 31,791 deaths. Topics :
Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked Diwali 2017 by visiting the Gurez sector near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.In what has become a tradition of sorts, PM Modi spent the Diwali greet troops of the Indian Army and the Border Security Force, distributing sweets and gifts to the jawans and officers whom he called “his family”.Clad in an Army jacket and sporting sunglasses, PM Modi addressed the troops in Gurez, saying, “When I greet you and shake hands with you, you may think it is just a formality. But for me, it isn’t just a formality. I get energised when I meet you and see the penance and sacrifice you make amid harsh conditions.”#WATCH: PM Narendra Modi celebrate #Diwali with jawans in Gurez Valley, near LoC, in J&K pic.twitter.com/gu2HxLRtq0- ANI (@ANI) October 19, 2017Speaking about Diwali, PM Modi said that, like everybody else, he too wishes to spend the festival with his family. And so, the prime minster said, he had come to meet the jawans of the armed forces in order to spend Diwali with “his family.”PM Modi, whose comments were put up on his blog on NarendraModi.in, brought up yoga during his trip to Gurez, saying he had been told how the soldiers posted there regularly practised yoga.Practising yoga will enhance your abilities, and give you a sense of calm, PM Modi told the gathered soldiers. PM Modi went on to say that the jawans, after leaving the armed forces, could become excellent yoga trainers.advertisementPM @narendramodi celebrating #Diwali with the jawans of #IndianArmy and #BSF, in the Gurez Valley, near the Line of Control, in J&K pic.twitter.com/eSfjqPmv57- PIB India (@PIB_India) October 19, 2017On his Diwali day address to the jawans, PM Modi also brought up his pet theme of ‘New India by 2022.’ PM Modi spoke of the personal resolve that all Indians must make for 2022, the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence.This was the third time Prime Minister Modi spent Diwali with the armed forces. He spent the last two Diwali days with troops in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.On his visit to Gurez, the prime minister was accompanied by the Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat, and other senior Army officers.Have come to meet you on Diwali in order to spend the festival withClick here to EnlargePM Modi left a message in a the visitors’ book, writing, “Protecting the Motherland, far from your loved ones, displaying the highest traditions of sacrifice, all soldiers at the nation’s borders, are symbols of bravery and dedication.I have an opportunity to spend the festival of Diwali with you. The presence of brave soldiers at the border, on this festive occasion, lights the lamp of hope, and generates new energy among crores of Indians.To accomplish the dream of “New India,” this is a golden opportunity for all of us to work together. The Army too is a part of it.Greetings to all of you on Diwali.”Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah lauded PM Modi for spending Diwali “with the people & troops in Gurez”.Physical & mobile connectivity would be your biggest gifts to the area this Diwali jenab. #HappyDiwali @narendramodi Sahib.- Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 19, 2017Abdullah, in a series of tweets, asked the prime minister to help get a tunnel constructed in the area and to help ensure mobile and data connectivity in the region.”You will have noticed that you can’t tweet from there sir. That’s because there is no data and almost no mobile service,” Abdullah tweeted.DEF MIN IN ANDAMANDefence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too celebrated Diwali with the armed forces. Sitharaman was in Andaman and Nicobar, where India’s only tri-services command is located.Smt. @nsitharaman celebrating Diwali with the families of Tri Services personnel at Port Blair @SpokespersonMoD pic.twitter.com/6JBRNYyHdf- Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) October 18, 2017The defence minister reached the strategically important command yesterday on a two-day visit.During her trip there, Sitharaman visited the colonial-era Celluar Jail, which was used by the British to exile political prisoners, where she laid a wreath.