Spain to lock down capital, angering regional government

first_imgResidents 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. center_img Topics :last_img read more

Van Gaal expects Di Maria arrival

Press Association Di Maria is currently on leave after his exertions with Argentina at the Copa America, but Van Gaal insists the midfielder will fly to the US on Saturday, as had been originally planned before the tour started. “He will come on July 25,” the United manager said. Van Gaal refused to dismiss reports United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward met with PSG officials to discuss Di Maria’s future on Tuesday. “I cannot answer that,” the Dutchman said. “It is a process. When we think we have to say something, we will.” Di Maria has also encountered problems off the field since his move to England. He and his family moved out of their Cheshire home in February following an attempted burglary. Senior sources at United recently downplayed suggestions Di Maria was unsettled in Manchester, but that has not stopped cash-rich PSG from being linked with a move for the player. Louis van Gaal still expects Angel di Maria to join Manchester United’s tour of the United States on Saturday despite reports the £59.7million midfielder is closing in on a transfer to Paris St Germain. As well as Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Javier Hernandez are also expected to join the squad on Saturday, when United play their third tour match – against Barcelona at the Levi’s Stadium in California. The trio are not expected to play in the match against Barcelona but will be available for United’s last match – against PSG – which could prove interesting if Van Gaal selects Di Maria. Barcelona’s Pedro is in the frame as a potential new recruit if Van Gaal decides to cut his losses on Di Maria. The Dutchman had hinted he was ready to sign a “surprise” striker at the weekend. But Van Gaal had changed his tune somewhat after United had beaten San Jose Earthquakes 3-1. “I don’t know if I want to buy a striker,” Van Gaal said. “I have read in the media that the striker is a surprise. No. That is not what I said. You are saying that. No. I mean something else.” Memphis Depay scored his first goal for United while Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira also found the net in San Jose, but Van Gaal was not a happy man after the final whistle. “The first half, I was satisfied,” said Van Gaal, who made 10 changes at half-time. “But the second half I think we played very badly. A lot of unnecessary ball losses. The only highlight was the goal from Pereira.” Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was singled out for criticism. “He was also bad,” Van Gaal said of the £15million signing. “The one highlight was Pereira.” Goalkeeper David de Gea, who sat out the first game in Seattle against Club America, did not play against San Jose. The Real Madrid target warmed up prior to the match, but he did not come off the bench at half-time and Sam Johnstone remained in goal for the whole 90 minutes.. Van Gaal hopes the Spaniard will be fit to play against Barcelona in Santa Clara this weekend. “I have good hope that he can play against Barcelona,” Van Gaal said. “He was still injured. Anders Lindegaard was also injured. It was difficult, so I said, ‘Go stand in the goal so we had a point of direction for my attackers, but don’t do anything to risk your injury more’. “I hope that he can play on Saturday. I think he can play on Saturday.” Di Maria failed to impress at United last season following his record move to Old Trafford from Real Madrid. The 27-year-old spent a large chunk of the second half of the season on the bench at United and he has subsequently been linked with a big-money move to PSG. read more