Murcia’s regional government has ordered all non-essential commercial outlets and other public facilities to close as concern grows about the spread of COVID-19 outside the main affected areas in Madrid.
Jet2.com, one of the main airline operators at Corvera Murcia Airport, has also announced the cancellation of all flights to Spain, with immediate effect (see below); while the Spanish national government has declared a 15-day “State of Alarm” (also translated as “State of Alert”) from Sunday 15 March.
In Murcia, initially the government focused its attention on the coastal areas, concerned about an influx of people travelling from Madrid with their families, following the decision to close schools and other educational institutions in the capital city.
Now, however, regional president Fernando López Miras has announced an extension of “quarantine” regulations and warnings to cover the whole region, expressing his disappointment that residents were not paying attention to advice and guidance from health authorities.
Murcia thus joined Madrid, Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria with, effectively, a complete lockdown within their borders, apart from essential services.
Miras said the lockdown would last for 14 days, throughout the region, but would not include pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations, “estancos” (tobacconists) and street kiosks.
Many establishments – restaurants, commercial centres, cinemas, leisure and sport centres, and showrooms – had already decided to close their doors, as the effects of the hashtag #YoMeQuedoEnCasa (#I’mStayingHome) campaign, encouraging people not to go out unless absolutely necessary, took hold throughout Spain.
In the government’s official press statement, Miras said, “From the first moment we have appealed to everyone’s responsibility, common sense and collaboration”. However, he added, he was forced to make the decision to extend the bans after the mayors of coastal municipalities quarantined since Friday afternoon conveyed their “concern at the population’s lack of community awareness”.
During a press conference on Saturday morning, the regional minister for health, Manuel Villegas, said the number of people affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus had risen to 51, with 12 admitted to hospital including two in intensive care.
“We cannot let our guard down… by staying at home we are saving lives. It’s a real fight of titans.” Villegas called on people to remain calm when buying food. “We are going to get out of this situation, and we will come out together, but for this we need the whole society to be involved.
“People can leave their homes, but they must keep the usual distances. Confinement for municipalities on the coast; social isolation for the rest.”
As for people who had travelled from Madrid, the health minister said it “must be considered that they have all had close contact” with someone infected, although he stressed, “there is no problem right now at any healthcare centre in the Murcia region”.
Thirty-five operators are taking calls on the special coronavirus telephone hotline: 900 12 12 12.
Flights Cancelled by Jet.com
The official statement by Jet.com explained, “In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to cancel all flights to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect. We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision.
“We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.
“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and we are reviewing our program as a matter of urgency, so that we can fly customers back to the UK.
“The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we would like to thank our customers for their understanding.”
For up-to-date flight information at Corvera Murcia Airport, click here.