Omicron restrictions spring up unevenly across Spain

Madrid, Dec 28 (EFE).- Covid-19 restrictions are being revived across much of Spain as the country grapples with a sixth wave of coronavirus that has swept through the country at astonishing speed due to the highly-contagious Omicron variant.

Spain’s government on Tuesday said it was monitoring the situation with “concern” and said it supported rules drawn up by regional administrations, which have decision-making power when it comes to issuing new restrictions.

The only national measure approved by the government last week was the return of mandatory face mask in all outdoor settings, with exceptions made for exercise or other activities like hiking in nature or walking on the beach.

Many Spaniards had continued to wear face masks in public despite the rule being relaxed in summer this year.

The result of regional authorities handling the Covid-19 response is a patchwork of different protocols across the country.

The northeastern region of Catalonia has enforced some of the most stringent measures, which include the closure of nightlife in cities like Barcelona, a limit on social gatherings to 10 people and a nightly curfew in populated areas with high infection rates.

Six regions of northern Spain have drawn up similar restrictions, with Cantabria, home of Santander, closing its nightlife and others, like Aragon and Galicia, forcing restaurants and bars to close up earlier than usual.

One standout exception is Madrid, where the conservative regional president has long railed against Covid-19 policies drawn up by the left-leaning national government.

The traditional New Year’s Eve celebration in the capital’s emblematic Puerta del Sol, where grape-guzzling revellers gather for an event broadcast live across the nation, is due to go ahead with a capacity limit of 7,000.

Madrid authorities have, however, expressed their intention to close down other large parties although night clubs and bars can remain open with few restrictions in place.

Like in much of Europe, all of Spain’s Covid-19 indicators have shot up over the festive period.

The number of Covid-19 infections notified by health authorities rose by nearly 400,000 in the last seven days, a 103% increase. The number of hospitalizations has risen by 27% in the last week, ICU admissions by 18.9% (1,715 people) and deaths by 12% (346).

Spain’s vaccine uptake has been a resounding success since the campaign began this time last year with almost 80% of the entire population having had a full course of a Covid jab.EFE


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