Spanish regions split on Covid measures for New Year’s revelry

Madrid, Dec 31 (EFE).- The extent to which Spaniards can celebrate the ringing in of the New Year will depend where they are in the country, with eight regions, including the capital Madrid, deciding not to toughen Covid-19 restrictions on the lead up to the occasion.

The revival of obligatory face mask use in public spaces is one of the only nationwide stipulations as the country reels off record infection levels, which hit 161,688 cases in 24 hours Thursday.

Spain’s two-week incidence rate has shot up to 1,775 per 100,000 inhabitants but the situation is more acute in Navarre (3,810 cases), La Rioja (2,861), the Basque Country (2,731), Castile and Leon (2,538), Madrid (2,426), Aragon (2,455) and Extremadura (2,158).

The central Spanish government handed decision-making power on Covid-19 restrictions to regional authorities following the end of the state of alarm earlier this year, resulting in a patchwork of differing measures depending not only on the coronavirus situation but also the political colors of local executives.

Public New Year celebrations are off the cards in Asturias, where nightlife has been shut down. Neighboring Cantabria has forced restaurants and bars to close at midnight while Catalonia, Murcia, La Rioja and Navarre have set their last call at 1am.

Efforts to implement a nighttime curfew in the Canary Islands were shot down by the courts.

On the other end of the spectrum, regional authorities in Madrid, Andalusia, the Balearics, Extremadura, Castile and Leon, Castile-La Mancha and Valencia opted against beefing up restrictions on social life but rather called on local populations to exercise caution.

Traditional celebrations in Madrid, where revelers gather in Puerta del Sol to eat grapes during the countdown to midnight, an event broadcast across Spain, are set to go ahead although will be limited to 7,000 people.

Other large events have been called off in the capital, however. EFE


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