Police move Barcelona crowds along amid post-curbs parties

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Police intervened to move along thousands of people drinking and dancing in Barcelona’s city centre and on the nearby beach, seeking to prevent dangerous overcrowding on the first full weekend after Spain lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

“We have cleared people from central streets and also about 2,000 from the beach, some who of whom were not respecting restrictions on distances or health regulations, but there were no fights,” Major Ricardo Salas, of the Barcelona City Guard, told Reuters on Sunday morning.

The government lifted a six-month state of emergency on May 9 at midnight (2200 GMT), so this was the first chance for revellers to party throughout the weekend.

There are still some restrictions in place. In Catalonia, for example, bars and restaurants are open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m and the maximum number of people allowed at tables is four.

With no more curbs on moving around the country, many Spaniards took a mini-break over the weekend.

Traffic authorities reported a 42% rise in cars leaving major cities on Friday compared with the same time the previous week. Tourist chiefs in the southeastern resort of Benidorm said hotel bookings were at 60%.

One of Europe’s worst-hit nations, Spain has recorded 79,339 coronavirus deaths and 3.6 million cases, according to Friday’s health ministry data. But infection rates have fallen and nearly a third of the population has had at least one vaccination dose.

Photo: People gather at Barceloneta beach in Barcelona, Spain, late 15 May 2021 (issued 16 May 2021), during the first weekend after the state of alarm was lifted. EPA-EFE/Marta Perez