A week before the state of alarm was declared, the International Women’s Day rally in Madrid attracted an estimated 120,000 people. A court in Madrid has responded to the bringing of a lawsuit by investigating the decision of the national government’s delegate to allow that rally to go ahead.

Three days after the rally, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. This was on the eleventh of March, the second day of the Cheltenham Festival and when Liverpool played Atletico Madrid at Anfield. There were around 3,000 visiting fans. Both this match and the festival have been identified as having been coronavirus hotspots; Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London believes that local cases increased “several-fold”.

Dr. Fernando Simón has said that if the rally in Madrid had any impact on the spread of the virus, this was “very marginal”. A forensic report sent to the court indicates that the “causality” between the rally and contagions has not been proven. Yet in Liverpool, there was a hotspot, attributed to the Madrid fans. Differing interpretations of contagion in Liverpool and Madrid are striking.

It was almost certainly folly to have allowed the rally to have gone ahead, as it was also folly not to have called off the sports events in England. But genuine proof as to actual causality is likely to be elusive. Even if there is proof, though, are the courts the way? Mistakes were made. In England, one very much doubts there would be lawsuits. In Spain, it’s the Spanish way.

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