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New restrictions against the virus come into force in two regions of Spain


FILE: In this Tuesday, July 14, 2020 file photo, a healthcare worker takes a sample for a PCR test for COVID-19 at a local hospital in Hospitalet, outside Barcelona, ​​Spain.


New restrictions to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, including the closure of nightclubs and a partial ban on smoking in the street, came into effect on Sunday in two regions of Spain.

La Rioja, in the north, and Murcia, in the southeast, are the first Spanish communities to implement a series of new measures to contain the increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, announced on Friday the new regulations that must be applied throughout the country.

The measures include the closure of all nightclubs, cocktail bars and dance halls, while restaurants and bars will not be able to admit more clients after midnight and must close at 1 am

Visits to nursing homes will be limited, and smoking in outdoor public spaces is prohibited if the two-meter safety distance from other people cannot be maintained.

This ban on smoking in the street is already in force in two of the 17 autonomous regions of Spain, Galicia and the Canary Islands.

The rest of the regional governments of Spain are expected to start implementing the new measures in the coming days.

The community of the Basque Country, neighboring La Rioja, plans to go further and on Monday it will declare a “health emergency”, which will allow it to impose greater restrictions on the size of public gatherings and establish selective confinements in areas where there is a high risk of contagion.

About 29,000 people have died so far from COVID-19 in Spain, which declared a state of emergency between March 14 and June 21 that allowed the central government to impose restrictions throughout the territory.

With the subsequent lifting of the state of emergency, autonomy was restored to the regional authorities.

The Ministry of Health has had to negotiate with the autonomies to be able to impose the new measures at the national level.

Spain has a population of 47 million inhabitants and its infection rate of 110 cases per 100,000 inhabitants is higher than that of other European countries.