Coronavirus: police close down packed Barcelona beach amid infection spike

Neighbouring France is considering shutting its borders to Spain after the country recorded more than 150 new outbreaks

La Sagrada Familia stands over residential buildings during the first day the new Catalan government recommendations and regulations on the fight against Covid-19 take effect on July 18, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Getty Images
La Sagrada Familia stands over residential buildings during the first day the new Catalan government recommendations and regulations on the fight against Covid-19 take effect on July 18, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Getty Images

Police in Barcelona closed down access to a large area of the city’s beaches on Saturday after too many sunbathers ignored authorities’ request to stay at home amid a new wave of surging coronavirus infections.

Spain’s Covid-19 outbreak is one of Europe’s worst, with more than 260,00 cases and over 28,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health authorities are trying to halt this week’s spike in cases, which has led to four million people around Barcelona being asked to stay home for 15 days.

Police blocked more people from entering the beach and used loudspeakers to recommend that the crowds already on the sand disperse because they were too closely packed and could spread the virus.

Barcelona and other areas of Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region have experienced the largest outbreaks in the country since a strict three-month nationwide lockdown ended only four weeks ago.

Catalan health authorities on Saturday reported more than 1,200 new cases – 894 in the Barcelona metropolitan area.

The new outbreaks have forced regional officials from Saturday to prohibit gatherings of over 10 people in Barcelona. Officials also urged residents of Barcelona and neighboring municipalities only leave home for work or necessary errands.

Residents of the Catalonian capital are also unable to visit nursing homes. Authorities have also moved to close nightclubs and gyms, and restrictions have been put in place on bars and restaurants, suspension of cultural activities and recreational sport.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa urged Barcelona residents to follow the guidelines issued by the regional Catalan authorities.

The mandatory use of face masks is rapidly spreading across Spain as officials grapple with more than 180 active outbreaks, most of them in Catalonia and the neighboring Aragon region.

New French Prime Minister Jean Castex is reviewing the situation in Catalonia “closely” and is mulling closing borders with Spain after new outbreaks have been reported. More than 30,000 people in France have died of Covid-19.

Overall, Europe has seen over 199,000 virus deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true number is higher than that, due to limited testing and other reasons.

Published: July 19, 2020 12:42 AM

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