May 18, 2020 / 7:03 PM / 7 days ago

Spain's king and economy minister at event over lockdown limit

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s King Felipe gave a speech at a conference in Madrid on Monday attended by the economy minister and others in an audience over the size authorised for public events under the capital’s strict coronavirus lockdown rules.

FILE PHOTO: Spain’s King Felipe VI visits a military hospital set up at the IFEMA conference centre during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain, March 26, 2020. Spanish Royal House/Handout via REUTERS

Pictures on the Spanish Royal House’s Twitter account showed at least 20 people at the event held by innovation foundation Cotec at the headquarters of telecom firm Telefonica.

Spain is easing restrictions and regulations vary according to regions, but gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited in Madrid, Spain’s health ministry press office said in an email to Reuters.

The Royal House, Telefonica and economy ministry did not comment, while Cotec’s communication director Juan Gomez said only nine people had been invited, including speakers, and he did not know who the others were.

Gomez did not know of an exception to lockdown rules being requested, though he said the event was of a work rather than public event nature. The health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on any possible exception for the event.

At the event, the foundation released its annual report and held a roundtable discussion on the health crisis.

“I am sure we will overcome the challenge we are living through now, in solidarity,” said King Felipe, Cotec’s president of honour, according to a transcript from his office.

Queen Letizia, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino and Telefonica CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete attended, as well as Madrid’s mayor and regional head of government, the images showed.

Most attendees wore masks and kept at least two empty seats between each of them, in keeping with social distancing practice, according to the images.

Spain has been one of the world’s worst-hit nations, with 27,709 deaths and 231,606 infections.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Joan Faus; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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