Spanish tourist hotspots seek return to curfews as youth infections rage

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Spain’s Canary Islands have joined the Mediterranean region of Valencia in petitioning the central government to bring back a mandatory night curfew to counter soaring COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated youngsters.

Nationwide, cases had been dwindling over recent months but began to surge from the middle of June, propelled by the more contagious Delta variant and more socialising among younger groups.

However, even though hospital admissions have begun to edge up, they remain far below levels seen earlier this year, while national intensive care occupancy stands at less than 7%.

Daily deaths have been steadily declining since April as the most vulnerable groups, such as elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions, have been vaccinated.

Since a national state of emergency expired in May, regional authorities have been in charge of their COVID-19 response but they need court authorisation or a government decree for the strictest measures like lockdowns, travel bans and curfews.

The Canaries’ regional government said late on Thursday it would ask its Supreme Court to authorise a curfew between 12:30 and 6 a.m. on tourist magnet Tenerife, which has the highest coronavirus incidence among the islands.

Defending the measure, regional leader Angel Victor Torres told Cadena Ser radio on Friday it would help avoid crowds of youngsters building up at nighttime, particularly over the weekends.

“Pressure on hospitals is starting to grow. In Tenerife, ICU occupation is at around 15% and young people are being admitted to intensive care,” he said.

Valencia, which is home to the popular resort of Benidorm, and the central region of Castilla and Leon, had already asked the central government for curfews but Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Wednesday that they were “not on the table.”

Highly dependent on tourism, Spain is trying to strike a delicate balance between opening up enough to entice back travellers while keeping infections in check to avoid putting off potential visitors.

Britain, which was Spain’s largest source of foreign tourists before the pandemic, announced earlier on Friday that it planned to scrap a 10-day quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers returning from other countries in the coming weeks.

But Germany, another major contributor of high-spending sunseekers, looks set to designate all of Spain as a high-risk area, according to media reports.

Photo: People attend the first day of Cruilla music festival in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 08 July 2021. Cruilla is the first mass festival held in Europe without distances since the beginning of coronavirus pandemic. Around 25,000 visitors will enjoy the three-day festival without restriction of free movement. EPA-EFE/Marta Perez

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