Restrictions return

NIGHTLIFE: Not as we know it. CREDIT: Wikipedia

THE growing number of coronavirus outbreaks in Spain has led officials to take measures that will have a huge impact on businesses throughout the country.
Last Friday, August 14 according to El País, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that all establishments, such as bars and restaurants would have to close at 1am, with no new patrons allowed to enter from midnight onwards.
And nightclubs, discos and similar establishments have been ordered to close for the foreseeable future.
Another measure announced by Illa was a blanket ban across Spain of smoking in public if a two-metre distance cannot be maintained between a smoker and other people.
Illa also said that bars and restaurants would need to guarantee a minimum safe distance of 1.5 metres between patrons at the bar and when they are eating at a table. The maximum number of diners will be limited to 10 at a table or gathering.
The new measures were announced after Euro Weekly News was accused of scaremongering last week after it carried a report in good faith on the EWN website regarding Spain’s Covid-19 plans for the immediate future should the rise of new cases continue to escalate.
The report, which said that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was set to lockdown Spain once again from Friday, September 18, was published after a chance meeting with a freelance reporter and two gentleman who identified themselves as government bodies.
Government officials later challenged the veracity of the report, but would not say what was wrong with it, choosing no further comment as a reply.
As a result of that report, EWN also found itself at the sharp end of a concerted social media attack. People insisted that it was ‘fake news’ that would exacerbate problems already making life difficult for business owners. The attacks were made both professionally and personally to members of staff.
We at EWN strive for accuracy at all times and share people’s anger and frustration, especially if we ourselves are misinformed, particularly in these rapidly changing and extremely distressing times.
That said, we would be failing in our duty of care to our readers if we were to underplay the seriousness of the pandemic in Spain. It is far from over.
Health Minister Illa was quoted in the El País report as saying: ‘There has been a growing number of outbreaks in recent weeks.’
Illa was speaking to journalists after having held an emergency meeting with health officials from Spain’s regions, which have been in charge of their own coronavirus measures ever since the State of Alarm, implemented by the central government back in March, came to an end.
His press conference was held after the latest figures released by the Health Ministry last Thursday showed a worsening situation.
Spain’s regions reported a total of 2,953 new Covid-19 infections detected in the previous 24 hours, and added a total of 7,550 confirmed cases from previous dates.
Not since the worst moments of the crisis in Spain, back in April, have infection rates been so high.
We have to work together in unity to ensure the continuation of our lives in Spain.
With this in mind, Benidorm’s business and hospitality trade associations are organising a peaceful demonstration this Sunday, August 23.
“This is prompted by the Spanish government’s continual absurdities and lack of organisation or planning during the health crisis,” declared Benidorm’s independent shopkeepers’ association, AICO.
Past and current policies are penalising businesspeople, shopkeepers and the self-employed while burdening them with debts, AICO said.
Together with ABRECA, representing Benidorm’s bars, restaurants and cafeterias, and OCIOBAL, an association of disco, pub and night-time venue owners, AICO called on the local population to join this Sunday’s demonstration.
The three associations argue that holiday destinations with favourable statistics should not be subjected to the most recent government measures and intend to start legal proceedings asking for the suspension of the latest decree, AICO explained.
The demonstration leaves the Hotel Cimbel on the Levante promenade at 11am, continuing to the town hall where the associations will read out a manifesto.
“Owners are subjected to important decisions which signify success or failure for a business,” AICO said.
“Like the rest of the Benidorm community, we have been committed from the outset to very strict hygiene procedures requiring great economic and organisational effort.”
The association went on to point out that this compliance is reflected in Benidorm’s encouraging Covid-19 figures of 24 cases in the previous fortnight, a ratio of fewer than six contagions for every 100,000 inhabitants despite the tourist influx.
“These statistics back up Benidorm’s good practices and enormous commitment,” AICO said.
“That is why we cannot understand the latest restrictions, closing discos and pubs and limiting the opening hours of bars and restaurants at national level.”
“This is a discriminatory measure that penalises those who have been doing the right thing from the very beginning.  We have done everything that was asked of us, we have the safest beaches in Europe with a plots system and controlled access, with all tourist businesses committed to the safety of our tourists and personnel,” AICO concluded.
Bars and restaurants across the resort have been left shell-shocked by the latest ruling in a long line of measures which could spell ruin for many.
The Black Chicken karaoke bar broke the news to its regulars on social media.
In a Facebook post, the management said: “So that’s it then guys the doors are locked the shutters are down and the tables and chairs all stacked neatly.
“After 16 weeks of lockdown we managed to reopen for five weeks before the news today that we have to close again. The Government are saying that we will be closed for at least 3 weeks before a review will take place, which is fine but where does this leave the town.
“Personally I think that this year is now a write off, we did at one point pray that the fiestas in November would take place generating much needed funds but I have serious doubts now that it will take place.
“Shop, bar and restaurant owners are closing their doors and handing back their keys to landlords on a weekly basis and those that are trying to ride out this Covid storm are slashing prices to try and get bums on seats. It’s a sure fact that only the strong will survive but at what cost.
“Stay safe and pray we get through this.”
An online Benidorm ‘Give back’ raffle has been organised by Sian Garner from the UK, to raise money which will be split between acts in the resort which are no longer receiving any income as a result of the pandemic and new regulations.
She said: “You are all aware of the pandemic. We are all struggling in our own way. However, in the UK most of us are back at work or still have Furlough or Universal credit to support us.
“Some of our friends in Spain have NO income. NOTHING. NADA!
“No support from the Government. (Through no fault of their own) and no work in sight. These artists have ALL paid their taxes and dues, and are expected to continue to do so with no income.
“They are in an IMPOSSIBLE situation. It’s time for us to ‘Give back’ to the entertainers.”
Tickets can be purchased by visiting the site below, and the draw will take place on Saturday, August 29.
The Publishers
Michel & Steven Euesden

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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