Hundreds of residents in some of the poorer areas of the Spanish capital, Madrid, protested against what they call discrimination before new blocking measures to stop the rise of Covid-19.
Restrictions on movement and gatherings begin on Monday and affect 850,000 people, many in lower-income areas with larger immigrant populations.
Protesters said they felt abandoned and called for better health regulations.
Spain has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe.
Madrid is particularly hard hit. Peaceful protests took place in 12 of the 37 areas affected by the new restrictions on Sunday.
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In Valecas, a southern district with one of the highest levels of infection in the capital, residents said the health care system was paralyzed and they felt stigmatized and feared that the new restrictions would deprive them of income.
Some chanted “Valecas is not a ghetto,” while banners said “No to segregation” and “No to blocking on the basis of class.”
“It is illogical that you can go and do things in richer areas, but you cannot do the same in Valecas. The same risk of infection is. They discriminate,” Begona Ramos, a 56-year-old resident, told Reuters. .
In a video posted on Twitter, Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said the announced restrictions do not discriminate against the poor, adding: “There are no first-class residents and second-class residents … We must be together at this time.”
Residents will be able to leave their area only to go to work, school or seek medical help. Social gatherings in their area will be limited to six, public parks will be closed and businesses will have to close by 22:00.
Protesters also called for the resignation of Madrid regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who was criticized for “immigrant lifestyles” being partly to blame for the rise in infections.
She is expected to meet with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday. Despite the worsening situation, he ruled out a second national blockade to curb the virus.
According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, the country has confirmed more than 640,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 120,000 of them in the first two weeks of September. The country reports more than 30,000 deaths.