Spain Orders New Lockdown Measures on Madrid After COVID-19 Cases Spike

The Spanish government has issued limited lockdown orders on Madrid as the country experiences a new surge of coronavirus cases.The capital city’s 3 million residents will not be allowed to venture from their homes except to go to work, school, shopping or for medical care.  All bars and restaurants will be forced to close earlier than normal and reduce their seating capacity by 50%.The new restrictions were approved during a meeting Wednesday between the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the heads of Spain’s various autonomous regions. Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters the restrictions will apply to municipalities with at least 100,000 inhabitants each, which would also affect nine municipalities surrounding the Spanish capital.Europe is experiencing a steady rise of new COVID-19 infections, with Spain leading the way with about 300 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. But the rate is more than double in the Madrid region, which stands at more than 780 infections per 100,000.“Madrid’s health is Spain’s health,” Health Minister Illa said.But the new restrictions have been denounced by Madrid’s right-wing regional government, with regional health minister Enrique Ruiz Escudero accusing the national Socialist-led government of interfering in the region’s handling of the pandemic. Madrid’s regional government rejected the new restrictions during Wednesday’s meeting, along with Catalonia and three other conservative-ruled regions.Meanwhile, two of the world’s biggest airlines, U.S. carriers American and United, say they will begin furloughing a combined 32,000 workers on Thursday due to a lack of more emergency aid from the federal government. The U.S. airline industry had received $25 billion in payroll support in March during the first days of the pandemic, as domestic and international travel ground to a halt.The furloughs by American and United come on the same week U.S. entertainment giant Disney announced it will lay off 28,000 workers, the majority of them at the company’s theme parks in Florida and California.The U.S. National Football League said Wednesday that Sunday’s scheduled game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers will be delayed until either Monday or Tuesday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases within the Titans’ franchise.Three players and five nonplayer personnel tested positive for the virus after the team played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis on Sunday, prompting the Titans to shut down its practice facilities in Nashville. A fourth player tested positive Wednesday. The Titans are the first NFL franchise with a COVID-19 outbreak since the beginning of the season in early September.

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