Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Parts of Spain begin reopening amid drop in cases

Catalonia, Murcia, and Melilla all reopen bars and restaurants for first time in weeks

Alyssa McMurtry   | 23.11.2020
Parts of Spain begin reopening amid drop in cases

OVIEDO, Spain

Parts of Spain are beginning a tentative return to normality, as the Health Ministry confirmed 25,886 new coronavirus infections and 512 COVID-19 deaths over the weekend.

The new infections are down by half from the first weekend of November, suggesting the emergency measures taken by the country’s regional governments have worked to bring down the curve.

On the other hand, Spain reported its deadliest weekend of the second wave, with the number of official COVID-19 fatalities now topping 43,100.

The number of active hospitalizations dropped slightly from Friday. Spanish hospitals are now treating 17,695 COVID-19 patients, who are using 30% of all available intensive care units, including temporary ones.

As new infections fall, more and more regions are opting to ease restriction, although curfews remain in place everywhere except the Canary Islands.

The hospitality sector in Catalonia breathed a sigh of relief on Monday, where bars and restaurants were allowed to operate for the first time in 40 days. Outdoor dining is again allowed at full capacity, but indoor capacity is limited to 30%.

To keep in line with the 10 p.m. curfew, all bars and restaurants must close by 9:30 p.m.

Over the weekend, the southern region of Murcia also reopened bars and restaurants with similar limitations.

Spain’s African enclave Melilla also reopened its outdoor patios on Monday, which must close by 8 p.m.

Bars and restaurants in other regions, most of them in the northern half of Spain, including the Basque Country, Asturias, Castile and Leon, and many cities in Galicia, remain closed.

Other places like the capital Madrid put limitations on the hospitality sector but stopped short of closing bars and restaurants during the second wave, while still managing to greatly reduce new infections.

Also on Monday, a new law came into effect in Spain stipulating that all visitors from 65 “high-risk countries” must have tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours before arriving.

Many incoming passengers at airports were unaware of the new rules, and fines for not having taken a test can run as high as €6,000 ($7,100). 

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