The Spanish state is increasing measures to keep people in their homes as it nears the end of its first week in COVID-19 enforced lockdown.
The Ministry of Health today announced there are 19,998 total cases in Spain, with 1,141 patients in intensive care and a further 1,002 who have already died from the virus.
Whilst most have obeyed the government shutdown, for some Spaniards being confined inside was just too much and those who were caught venturing outside without valid reason have been issued with fines, or even arrested.
The number of arrests of those caught disobeying the measures during the first five days of lockdown amounted to 157 people by Friday morning. In Madrid alone, 907 people have been issued with fines for breaking the lockdown rules.
But the Interior Ministry on Friday warned that while the first week was a useful transition period, the “time has come to implement fully the state of alert” and announced it was stepping up measures.
The Ministry said it would now be boosting the 260,000 police officers available with an additional 131,000 military personnel to impose the lockdown.
Only those who are lucky enough to have dogs are able to stroll the streets without having to prove that they are on an essential shopping trip.
In Madrid, drones patrol the streets and blare warnings to stay at home through speakers, while in Murcia police cars cruise deserted streets and make announcements through megaphones.
Worried citizens look on from balconies, knowing they can only leave the house for essential travel to supermarkets and pharmacies – and must somehow prove that’s where they’re going – but not when the lockdown will be lifted.
They do know that those who ignore the royal decree can face fines of up to €30,000, although most have been in the region of €600.
El Diario reports 3,270 citizens across Spain have been fined for ignoring the isolation measures and those repeat offenders may even face prison sentences.
As consequence streets across Spain are now largely desolate except for police patrols.
Published The Local 21 March 2020