Spain announces closure of bars, nightclubs to limit Covid spread

Madrid, Aug 15 (IANS) Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that nightclubs and night-time bars nationwide will be closed, in part of the latest government measures to curb coronavirus resurgence.

Illa detailed a raft of measures that were agreed at an emergency meeting with regional health officials, according to an online story by Spain's best-selling newspaper El Pais.

“There have been a growing number of outbreaks in recent weeks,” the minister explained at a press conference after the meeting on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I am announcing that, for the first time, we have decided to adopt coordinated actions in terms of public health and that these measures have been adopted unanimously,” he said.

Illa also said that establishments, such as restaurants, would have to close at 1 a.m. with no new patrons allowed to enter from midnight onward, and the number of people eating at a table was limited to 10.

Other measures include giving new residents and staff at senior care homes a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to ensure they are free of the coronavirus. Visits to homes will also be limited to one person per resident with a maximum of one hour.

The minister also said that fines would be levied “in a strict manner” on youngsters who are found to be drinking on the street, El Pais reported.

Another measure announced by Illa on Friday was a blanket ban across Spain on smoking in public if a two-meter distance cannot be observed. The regions of Galicia and the Canary Islands had already introduced such a measure, El Pais said.

Despite notable increases in new cases in recent days, Illa insisted that the current COVID-19 situation was “not comparable with the one that we had in April,” because most of the cases being detected recently are mild and are occurring among younger people and are being caught earlier.

Also on Friday, the Madrid regional government announced that it would begin free random testing in areas that are being hardest hit by the coronavirus, such as the districts of Carabanchel, Usera, Villaverde and Puente de Vallecas, and the municipalities of Alcobendas and Mostoles, according to El Pais.



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