Thousands of Spanish residents have taken to the streets of Madrid in defiance of the state of emergency measures to protest the COVID-19 lockdown and the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The protest took place in the upmarket neighbourhood of Salamanca in the central Spanish capital Madrid when thousands broke the lockdown measures to take to the streets.
According to local media, the demonstrators, some draped in the Spanish flag, protested the country’s strict lockdown measures and also called on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to resign.
The central government has yet to authorise the moving to Phase 1 of the de-escalation for Madrid though many other parts of the country are now enjying increased freedom of movement.
Reports said that the protest started on balconies in the area and grew within a few days until thousands were eventually on the streets protesting the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The street protest was reportedly organised by the online group ‘Resistencia Democratica de Espana’ (‘The Spanish Democratic Resistance’) who said that thousands took to the streets during lockdown.
According to local media, 10 police vans were on the scene while a helicopter flew overhead.
Government spokesman Jose Manuel Franco: “It is one thing to bang saucepans, and everyone has the right to demonstrate, but it is another thing to fail to comply with the measures of the state of alarm.”
He also said that city protests should be authorised by the city council beforehand and no permission had been sought by the organisers.
Pablo Echenique of the left-wing political party ‘Unidas Podemos’ (‘United We Can’) branded the protests “ridiculous” while several right-wing parties supported the residents’ stand, according to local media.
Today is a bank holiday in Madrid to mark the feast day of San Isidro the patron saint of the city.
It is unclear whether any arrests were made during the demonstration.
According to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University, Spain has registered 229,540 cases of COVID-19 and 27,321 related deaths.