The Spanish region of Catalonia, which includes the city of Barcelona, ordered bars and restaurants to close for 15 days from Thursday in an effort to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.
“We need to act today to avoid a total lockdown in the coming weeks. The situation is very worrying”, acting regional chief Pere Aragones said on Wednesday.
Spain has so far registered nearly 900,000 cases and more than 33,000 deaths from COVID-19. The capital Madrid and nearby suburbs were put on partial lockdown last week.
On Wednesday, restaurant associations said they would file a lawsuit against any closure. The local government said it will disburse €40 million in aid to bars and restaurants.
The deputy mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, called the measure “disproportionate”: “The sector has made a very significant effort and we have to remember that less than a week ago there were plans to reopen nightclubs”, he said.
Under the new measures, non-professional sport competitions will be also suspended and the region’s gyms will only be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Casinos will be closed, shops and large shopping centers will see capacity limited to 30%, and cultural events will be allowed to run at 50% capacity and must finish by 11 pm.