Spanish hotel chain Melia sues government for lockdown damages

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MADRID, March 17 (Reuters) – Spain’s largest hotel chain Melia Hotels has filed a complaint against the government with an administrative court seeking 116 million euros ($138 million) in damages incurred due to last year’s COVID-19 restrictions, the company said.

A spokeswoman for the group said on Wednesday the claim was related to losses suffered as a result of the government-imposed lockdown between mid-March and late June of 2020, confirming a report by the newspaper Expansion.

More than 400 Spanish bars, restaurants and hotels have already filed claims seeking compensation from the government for losses linked to the restrictions, said Humberto Calderon, a lawyer from the firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo, which is advising them.

The amounts claimed by each company are not set yet, and will depend on individual revenue losses during the restrictions, Calderon said.

Expansion reported NH Hotel Group had also filed a complaint, though the company declined to comment.

Restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus contagion have ravaged Spain’s crucial tourism industry, with the number of foreign visitors falling to five-decade lows last year, bringing the hospitality sector, airlines and travel agencies to the verge of bankruptcy.

The Spanish government has approved rescue packages for airline Air Europa and travel operator Avoris, of 475 million euros and 320 million euros respectively, as part of a scheme to support strategic companies.

($1 = 0.8395 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Jan Harvey)

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