Madrid's roads were today brought to a standstill by anti-lockdown protesters demanding that the government resign over its handling of coronavirus.
Supporters of the right-wing Vox party blocked the capital's main thoroughfare with cars and waved flags, while similar demonstrations took place in Barcelona and Seville, on Spain's National Day.
It comes amid a standoff between Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the conservative-led Madrid regional government which last week won a legal challenge against new lockdown rules it argues are excessive and economically disastrous.
The Madrid region had 724 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to October 9, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe's third densest cluster after Andorra and Brussels.
'I have come to protest because I am fed up with the management of the pandemic, not only with health but with the economy. I am not a Vox supporter, but we have to protest somehow,' said Lola Abad, 55, an administrator who attended the Madrid demonstration.
King Felipe VI, accompanied by members of the government, marked the National Day public holiday on Monday in Madrid with only 520 soldiers instead of the normal parade of several thousand troops because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Today is National Day and they will not let us go and celebrate, especially not in Madrid because of the state of alarm but I still don't know what the criteria they decreed it,' said Manuel Sanchez, 46, a lawyer.
The Spanish regions of Catalonia and Navarre imposed new restrictions on working and public gatherings on Sunday after rises in COVID-19 cases.
Spain said on Friday it had recorded 861,112 coronavirus cases - the highest number in Western Europe - and 32,929 deaths.
On Thursday, the Madrid regional court rejected a new ban on people leaving their local areas imposed by the Spanish Health Ministry the week before.
Regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso's appeal was upheld by the court which called the restrictions an 'interference by public authorities in citizens' fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it.'
The ruling meant that the police would not be able to fine people for leaving their municipalities without a justification.
Other restrictions not affected by the ruling include a six-person cap on gatherings and limits to restaurant, bar and shop capacity and opening hours.
Ministers had approved the new rules in an attempt to bring infection rates in Madrid down, making it the first European capital to head back into a full lockdown.
Famous for its late-night carousing and usually lively tourist flow, Madrid's bars and restaurants had been ordered to shut two hours earlier than the previous 1am curfew, while restaurants, gyms and shops were told to cut capacity cut by half.
The measures broadened a confinement already in place in poorer parts of the city with high infection rates.
Conservative regional head Ayuso had tweeted her fury at the PM at the time, writing: 'From tomorrow one will be able to get to Madrid from Berlin but not from Parla (a periphery town south of Madrid). Thanks for the chaos, Pedro Sanchez.'
Prime Minister Sanchez said the only goal was saving lives and protecting health. 'All decisions are made based on scientists' citeria,' he said at a summit in Brussels.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.