Madrid’s regional government has been accused of trying to fight the spread of the coronavirus with PR rather than real measures after banning eating on the metro and on intercity buses – even though it was already banned anyway.
The measure was unveiled by the Community of Madrid as an addition to the existing rules compelling people to wear the mask on the street, in a rule that was approved on 29th July.
They said that banning people from eating or drinking on the bus would mean they kept their masks on.
But critics quickly pointed out that the new measure seems redundant since current regulations already prevent food from being taken on buses.
Mas Madrid, one of the opposition parties in the Madrid Government, criticised the measure on its official Facebook page and Twitter, saying: “Prohibiting what is already prohibited. Marketing does NOT stop COVID-19”.
The Government of the Community of Madrid is responsible for the Madrid Metro, while the Madrid City Council is responsible for the bus system.
The Mayor of the city of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told the Spanish newspaper Vanguardia: “People are not allowed to eat or drink food on the buses of the EMT (Municipal Transport Company), therefore, it is not allowed to remove a face mask to carry out this action”.
Almeida reminded citizens that it is not allowed to remove their masks on Madrid public transport and emphasised that the EMT disinfects the buses every day. In addition, he noted that using the service is “safe” and does not carry additional risks.
The restrictions in the community of Madrid and in Spain continue to increase as cases of coronavirus rise again in the country.
Last weekend, the Spanish Central Government in coordination with the Autonomous Communities, restricted nightlife throughout the country, forcing all venues to close at 1:00 am.
In addition, smoking was prohibited on terraces and in the street if a minimum distance of two metres cannot be maintained. This measure fact that was harshly criticised by business owners in the hospitality sector who have threatened to take legal action against the decisions of the government and the Ministry of Health.
Regarding the restriction on nightlife, Jose Luis Ysuel, President of the Hospitality Confederation in Spain, announced that 40,000 businesses in the industry have closed and that 65,000 are expected to do so by the end of the year, according to national newspaper El Pais.
He said last week to the same daily: “They have no idea what’s going on and they are playing trial and error with decision making but rehearsing with us (the hotel and restaurant industry).”
The Community of Madrid (6,662,000 inhabitants) currently has 894 people hospitalised with COVID-19 and 96 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) as of 17th August.