Bayern Munich Confirm Thiago Alcantara Moving To Liverpool

Embattled Bayern Hunt Thiago Replacement
In this file photo taken on October 02, 2018 Bayern Munich’s Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara walks at the field during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Bayern Munich and Ajax Amsterdam in Munich, southern Germany. Christof STACHE / AFP.

 

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed Thursday the club has agreed a transfer with Liverpool for Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

“I can confirm that FC Bayern have finally agreed with Liverpool FC,” Rummenigge told German daily Bild.

“It was Thiago’s big wish to once more do something new before the end of his career.”

It is understood Liverpool will pay an initial fee of £20 million ($26 million) for the player, who has one year remaining on his contract at European champions Bayern, with more to follow in add-ons.

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick congratulated Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on landing Alcantara, who he described as an “exceptional player”.

“‘Kloppo’ is getting a top player and a great person,” Flick said Thursday.

“It was very emotional today when he (Alcantara) said goodbye.”

Thiago, 29, had a year left on his contract at Bayern and had stalled over signing an extension.

The Spain international joined Bayern from Barcelona in 2013 and played a key role in last month’s Champions League final victory over Paris Saint-Germain.

It had been reported a potential move for Thiago was being held up by uncertainty over the future of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Dutchman, who is in the final year of his contract at Anfield, has been linked with Barcelona.

Liverpool, however, have decided to make their move for Thiago now with Manchester United also reportedly chasing the signature of the Spanish playmaker.

He would be Liverpool’s second signing of the summer transfer window and a more significant acquisition than that of Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas, who was bought to provide cover for Andy Robertson.

AFP

Spain, India Crash Through Coronavirus Milestones

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 1, 2020 a health professional works at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward where patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus are being treated, at the Santa Casa hospital in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. (Photo by Douglas MAGNO / AFP)

 

Spain passed the landmark figure of 500,000 coronavirus infections on Monday as India reopened some metro lines despite becoming the world’s second most affected country.

Spain had largely gained control over its outbreak by imposing one of the world’s toughest lockdowns, but infections have surged since the restrictions were fully removed at the end of June.

The country became the first in western Europe to hit the 500,000 mark — albeit with a far lower death rate and many more asymptomatic cases than were recorded during its previous peak in late March and early April.

“The situation is much more favourable but we remain in an upwards phase,” said health official Fernando Simon.

But the overall caseloads in European countries are dwarfed by India’s 4.2 million confirmed infections.

Nevertheless, economic necessity pushed the South Asian nation to risk reopening transport lines on Monday — metros began running again in the capital New Delhi after a five-month shutdown and 12 other cities also restarted subway services.

“For our lives to move on, we have to get out of our homes… so this is a good move by the government,” on commuter Deepak Kumar on the Delhi subway told AFP.

Passengers are obliged to wear masks, keep their distance and undergo temperature checks.

– ‘Like guinea pigs’ –
India leapfrogged Brazil to become the world’s second-hardest hit nation after the United States, with the virus having caused almost 890,000 deaths and more than 27 million infections worldwide.

As governments around the world have moved away from the idea of blanket lockdowns, countries in all continents have been experimenting with targeted measures to deal with infection spikes.

England fiddled with its overseas quarantine rules again on Monday, imposing restrictions on travellers from seven Greek islands popular with holidaymakers.

Morocco imposed a lockdown on Casablanca and shut schools on the day they were supposed to reopen after a surge in cases in the city.

Officials said the virus risked overwhelming the country if it was not controlled, but some parents were left fuming.

“They were on cloud nine over returning to school tomorrow,” wrote one father on Twitter. “How do you explain this to a six-year-old and an eight-year-old?”

In Spain, parental anger flowed in the other direction, with fears rising that schools were opening too soon with millions of pupils returning on Monday.

“Going back to school is being treated like an experiment, we’re like guinea pigs,” said Aroa Miranda, a 37-year-old mother-of-two.

France put seven more regions on a red list on Sunday after regularly recording daily infection rates of between 7,000 and 9,000 — although the figure fell dramatically on Monday.

Israel announced a “nightly closure” of 40 cities and towns with the highest infection rates with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepting the measures were not ideal but saying there was “no way to avoid them”.

– Olympic hope –
The coronavirus fallout continues to ricochet around the sporting world, with French footballer Kylian Mbappe the latest in a long line of footballers to test positive.

Many tennis players have also been infected, galvanising organisers of the French Open later this month to impose strict guidelines.

All players will be housed in two designated hotels “without exception” to reduce the risk, said tournament director Guy Forget, who also said far fewer spectators would be allowed to watch than initially planned.

Both tennis and football have seen their calendars ripped to shreds by the virus, but the biggest single casualty has been the Tokyo Olympics, which were due to take place this summer.

International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates offered a note of hope on Monday, saying the rescheduled Games would go ahead next year regardless of the pandemic.

“These will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel,” Coates told AFP in an exclusive interview.

 

 

AFP

Spain Calls In Army To Fight COVID-19 Pandemic

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses media representatives at a press conference following a European Union Summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels on October 18, 2019. AFP

 

Spain will call in the army to help identify those who have been exposed to people infected with coronavirus as part of efforts to curb the spread of the disease, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Tuesday.

The central government will make 2,000 soldiers who are trained in tracking available to the regions, which are responsible for health care, to assist in tracking cases and stem a rise in infections, he told a news conference.

“We could even increase this figure as required through the urgent training which we have planned,” Sanchez said.

Many experts have blamed a lack of virus trackers for a surge in COVID-19 infections in several Spanish regions such as Madrid and Catalonia.

Sanchez urged Spaniards to use a smartphone app designed by the government called RadarCovid which can identify people who have crossed paths with a contagious patient and alert them so they can get tested or be quarantined.

He also announced that regional authorities could ask the central government to apply a state of emergency, which would allow it to limit people’s movements, on part or all of its territory.

People queue to be tested at a temporary testing centre for the novel coronavirus in the Spanish Basque city of Gernika, on August 25, 2020. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP).

 

The central government declared a nationwide state of emergency in mid-March which allowed it to impose one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with people allowed outside only to buy food or medicine, seek medical care, briefly walk their dog or go to work if it was impossible to do their jobs from home. It was only fully lifted on June 21.

While the rise in infections in Spain is “worrying”, it is “far from the situation in mid-March”, Sanchez said.

“We can’t let the pandemic to once again take control of our lives… we must take control and halt this second curve.”

Infections have risen sharply since Spain lifted the lockdown, but deaths have been much lower than during the epidemic’s peak.

The country has more than 400,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease, the highest in western Europe, and one of the fastest growth rates on the continent.

Nearly 29,000 people have died, one of the world’s highest tolls.

AFP

New Virus Crackdown Extended To More Spanish Regions

People wear face masks as they walk along a beach in Barcelona, on July 18, 2020. Josep LAGO / AFP
People wear face masks as they walk along a beach in Barcelona, on July 18, 2020. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

 

Nightclubs closed their doors Monday in four more regions of Spain as new measures to curb a rise in COVID-19 infections came into effect, a day after a noisy Madrid protest against virus restrictions.

Spain’s most populous region, Andalusia, along with Galicia and Cantabria in the north and Castilla and Leon in the centre were the latest Spanish regions to begin enforcing 11 measures the government unveiled Friday to curb one of the fastest virus growth rates in Europe.

Two other regions, La Rioja and Murcia began applying the measures on Sunday.

They include the closure of all discos, night clubs and dancing halls while restaurants and bars are required to close by one am, with no new guests allowed in from midnight in a country known for late-night partying.

 

File photo: Commuters wearing face masks sit on a train at the Atocha Station in Madrid on April 13, 2020, as some companies were set to resume operations at the end of a two-weeks halt of all non-essential activity amid a national lockdown to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.

 

All of Spain’s 17 regional governments, which are responsible for healthcare, agreed to enforce the measures which also include a ban on smoking outdoors in public places when a distance of two metres cannot be maintained and limits on visits to retirement homes.

Chanting “freedom”, between 2,500 and 3,000 people, according to a police estimate, rallied in Madrid on Sunday evening against the mandatory use of facemasks and other government-imposed virus restrictions.

Many protesters did not wear a mask in public even though it is required by law across Spain and did not respect social distancing rules.

“What happened will be punished with the greatest severity,” the central government’s representative in Madrid, Jose Manuel Franco, told Cadena Ser radio.

 

File photo: Healthcare workers prepare to move a COVID-19 coronavirus patient at the Intensive Unit Care of the Povisa Hospital in Vigo, northwestern Spain, on April 16, 2020. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Meanwhile, the northern Basque Region on Monday declared a “health emergency: which will allow it to impose tougher restrictions than its neighbours because of the risk of a “tsunami” of new infections.

Spain counts nearly 343,000 infections, the highest amount in Western Europe. In the past 14 days, it produced 115 new cases per 100,000 people, compared to 45 in neighbouring France, 19 in Britain and 16 in Germany.

But a large part of the new cases are in asymptomatic people and the lethality of the virus has decreased considerably — out of the 28,617 virus deaths which Spain has recorded less than 300 have occurred since the end of a strict lockdown on June 21.

AFP

New COVID-19 Restrictions Come In Force In Two Spanish Regions

AFP Photo

 

New restrictions to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, including the closure of discos and a partial ban on smoking outdoors, went into effect Sunday in two Spanish regions.

The small, northern wine-growing region of La Rioja and the southeastern region of Murcia are the first Spanish regions to implement a raft of new measures which Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa unveiled Friday to be enforced nationwide as the country battles a surge in the disease.

The measures include the closure of all discos, night clubs and dancing halls, while restaurants and bars are required to close by 1:00 am, with no new guests allowed in from midnight.

Visits in retirement homes will be limited, while smoking outdoors in public places is banned when a distance of two metres cannot be maintained.

The ban on smoking on the streets is already in place in two of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, Galicia and the Canary Islands.

Spain’s remaining regional governments are expected to start implementing the new measures in the coming days.

The Basque Region, which neighbours La Rioja, plans to go a step further and will on Monday declare and “health emergency” which will allow it to impose greater restrictions on the size of public gatherings and establish selective confinement in areas where there is a high risk of transmission of the disease.

Nearly 29,000 people have died so far from COVID-19 in Spain, which declared a state of emergency between March 14 and June 21 that allowed the central government to impose restrictions nationwide.

With the state of emergency subsequently lifted, autonomy has been handed back to the regional authorities.

The health ministry has had to negotiate with them to impose the new measures on a nationwide basis.

Spain has a population of 47 million and its infection rate of 110 cases per 100,000 inhabitants is higher than in other European countries.

AFP

Spanish Govt Insists Coronavirus ‘Under Control’

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Set For Final Trial Stage After 'Promising' Results
In this file photo taken on May 18, 2020, a syringe is pictured on an illustration representation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in Paris. JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The Spanish government said on Sunday that in spite of the recent surge in coronavirus cases, the situation there is “under control”.

The statement comes in response to countries that have recently announced travel restrictions on Spain.

From Sunday, passengers arriving from Spain to the UK will have to undergo a fortnight in isolation while Norway imposed restrictions on travel to Spain.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex “strongly recommended” Friday that the French avoid going to Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain where the epidemic is particularly on the rise.

“The Spanish government considers that the situation is under control, the outbreaks have been located, isolated and controlled,” the foreign ministry told AFP.

Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez gives a speech during a parliamentary plenary session at the Lower Chamber of Spanish Parliament, in Madrid, on May 20, 2020. Andres BALLESTEROS / POOL / AFP
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez gives a speech during a parliamentary plenary session at the Lower Chamber of Spanish Parliament, in Madrid, on May 20, 2020. Andres BALLESTEROS / POOL / AFP

“Spain is a safe country,” the ministry said, adding that in the case of the British quarantine, Spain is “in contact” with London whose decisions it “respects”.

Spain reported nearly a thousand new cases a day on both Thursday and Friday.

Its number of cases has tripled in two weeks while more than 280 homes are being closely monitored by the authorities.

The Ministry of Health is particularly concerned about the situation in Aragon and Catalonia, where the regional authorities have urged residents of Barcelona to stay at home.

They also decided on Friday to close nightclubs and bars, considered hotbeds of contagion.

Most regions have tightened the screw by reinforcing the compulsory use of masks, which must be worn at all times in the street under threat of a fine.

In some of them, restrictions have been taken locally, such as limiting the number of people who can meet or banning visits to retirement homes.

The central government, which insists that this is not a “second wave”, considers that the regions have sufficient tools to control the epidemic.

It has also ruled out the possibility of a new state of emergency, which allowed Madrid to impose a strict lockdown in mid-March which was not completely lifted until June 21.

Spain, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, has had 272,400 cases and more than 28,400 fatalities.

AFP

UK Defends Spain’s Removal From Travel Corridor

UK To Boost African Partnership With £30m

 

The British government on Sunday defended its decision to impose an immediate requirement for passengers arriving from Spain to self-isolate amid a resurgence of coronavirus in the popular holiday destination.

The new rules took hold at midnight Saturday, hours after being announced, causing uncertainty for holidaymakers and leading to criticism from travel industry leaders.

“I think it’s quite poor that they did it so instantaneously,” Philip Bradby, 55, told the domestic Press Association after returning early to Britain from Barcelona.

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government was required to take “swift” action.

“The data we got was on Friday, it showed a big jump right across mainland Spain. That was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could,” Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.

“We can’t make apologies for doing so,” he added.

“I understand it is disruptive for those going through this …but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action.”

Passengers arriving in Britain will have to self-isolate for two weeks following the surge in cases.

“The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data,” said a British government spokesman.

“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.”

Britain is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but that does not apply to the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands.

Barely a month after Spain ended its months-long state of emergency, new infections have been rising.

Transport minister Grant Shapps was caught in the ruling as he is currently in Spain for his summer break.

Labour called the decision “frankly shambolic”, with shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth saying holidaymakers had been left “confused and distressed”.

Tui, Britain’s biggest tour operator, said the government should have given them “more notice of this announcement”.

AFP

Spanish Region, Catalonia, Closes Nightclubs, Event Halls Over Spike In COVID-19 Cases

People wear face masks as they walk along a beach in Barcelona, on July 18, 2020. Josep LAGO / AFP
People wear face masks as they walk along a beach in Barcelona, on July 18, 2020. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

The Catalan government on Friday ordered the closure of all nightclubs, discos and event halls across this region of northeastern Spain following a surge in cases of coronavirus. 

The order, which will come into effect on Saturday and remain in force for two weeks, was given as Spain watches more than 280 new outbreaks, with virus cases tripling in the past fortnight.

Nearly half of all new cases have been in Catalonia, where just a week ago, officials urged nearly four million residents of metropolitan Barcelona to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Friday’s order by the region’s civil protection agency also banned musical events with dance floors and imposed a midnight curfew on gambling establishments, casinos, bingo halls, bars and restaurants and their terraces, and music bars.

Barely a month after Spain ended its months-long state of emergency, new infections have been rising, with health officials increasingly pointed to nightlife as fertile ground for the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, the southeastern region of Murcia also ordered the closure of nightclubs unless they had an outdoor terrace space for customers.

The closure came a month after Barcelona’s nightclubs and discos reopened but within days, regional officials had issued an order banning dancing unless you know your partner well.

Spain has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which has so far claimed 28,432 lives and infected more than 272,000 people.

France has also been worriedly watching the situation in Catalonia, with Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday urging French nationals “to avoid going there until the health situation improves”.

For now, however, the border between France and Spain will remain open.

 

 

AFP

Real Madrid Draw Relegates Leganes And Messi Claims Golden Boot

 

Newly-crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid dropped points for the first time since the season’s restart on Sunday in a dramatic 2-2 draw that was not enough to save Leganes from relegation.

Leganes, who needed to beat Madrid and hope Celta Vigo failed to win against bottom club Espanyol, almost pulled off a miraculous escape but could not find a winner at the Butarque.

The draw means a rotated Madrid side surrendered the perfect record of 11 victories out of 11 since Spanish football came back from its coronavirus-enforced suspension while Karim Benzema fell short of Lionel Messi in the battle for the golden boot.

Gareth Bale was left out of Madrid’s squad completely for what might have been his last La Liga fixture for the club. Zinedine Zidane said afterwards it was a “technical decision”.

Messi had earlier scored twice in a 5-0 win over Alaves, enough for him to claim a record seventh ‘Pichichi Trophy’ and to give Barcelona a boost ahead of the return leg of their last 16 Champions League tie against Napoli next month.

The double took Messi’s league tally to 25 goals for the season and put him four clear of Benzema, who endured a quiet night against Leganes, with Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio on target.

The odds were always against Leganes but a miracle looked possible when Roger Assale equalised with 12 minutes left to find a winner.

But chances were missed and a penalty appeal was turned down, meaning they join Real Mallorca and Espanyol in Segunda next season.

“The lads are broken,” said Leganes coach Javier Aguirre. “We had it within our grasp.”

Real Sociedad and Granada, meanwhile, took the last two Europa League spots, with Getafe and Valencia missing out. Villarreal had already secured fifth place.

Granada thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 and qualification caps an incredible season for the club, who were only promoted from Segunda last term.

“Our aim was to stay up so to finish in the Europa League is a dream for us,” said Granada striker Roberto Soldado.

Real Sociedad snuck into sixth place after Adnan Januzaj’s 87th-minute goal clinched a 1-1 draw away at Atletico Madrid.

Barca believe in Euro glory

Messi finishes as La Liga’s top scorer for a record seventh time, pulling clear of Telmo Zarra’s six while playing for Athletic Bilbao in the forties and fifties.

“I’m never that bothered about the individual prizes and I would have preferred it to have come with a league title like before,” added Messi.

Setien said on Saturday he still believes Barcelona, at their best, can win the Champions League next month.

And a sparkling attacking display certainly gave a glimpse of what is possible, even if Napoli in the last 16, and potentially Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, will offer a completely different test.

There could be fitness concerns for Setien too ahead of the second leg against Napoli. Clement Lenglet hobbled off with what looked like a groin problem, with Antoine Griezmann and Samuel Umtiti already out injured.

But Setien has increasingly been putting his faith in youth and the 20-year-old Puig impressed again in midfield while 21-year-old Ronald Araujo gave a composed, albeit largely unchallenged, performance in defence.

The 17-year-old Ansu Fati opened the scoring at the near post before Puig teed up Messi to stride through and finish.

Luis Suarez capped a superb move by heading in his 17th league goal after Jordi Alba had volleyed Messi’s pass across, with another Puig through ball allowing Nelson Semedo to lash in a fourth.

Messi had the last word with a smart finish on the half-volley.

Madrid looked to have the game won when Asensio finished off Isco’s pass but Leganes pulled level as Assale nipped in to set up a dramatic last 10 minutes.

With Celta still being held, they only needed a goal to survive and Javier Aviles might have got it only to miskick at the back post and then failed to connect from a corner.

Replays showed Luka Jovic touched the cross with his hand but referee Guillermo Cuadra was not convinced and even goalkeeper Pichu Cuellar going up for a 94th-minute corner could not give Leganes the goal they needed.

Spain Honours Over 28,000 COVID-19 Victims At Solemn State Memorial

Attendees sit around a cauldron during a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Juanjo Martin / POOL / AFP
Attendees sit around a cauldron during a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Juanjo Martin / POOL / AFP

 

Badly hit by the pandemic and carefully watching the latest outbreaks, Spain paused Thursday to honour its tens of thousands of victims at a state ceremony joined by top EU and World Health Organization figures.

The memorial took place barely three weeks after Spain ended its months-long state of emergency, but since then there has been a growing number of new coronavirus infections, with health chiefs monitoring more 120 active outbreaks.

So far, the virus has officially claimed 28,413 lives in Spain, making it the seventh worst-hit country in the world.

“Today, we are symbolically saying goodbye to mothers, fathers, children, siblings, friends: we take their hands, caress their cheek, kiss their forehead and remember their glance in our hearts,” Hernando Calleja, who lost his brother in April, said in an address at the ceremony.

Presided over by Spain’s King Felipe VI, the memorial took place in a square outside the Royal Palace in the presence of bereaved families and a host of top EU and WHO officials, with an orchestra playing Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”.

“This act cannot heal the pain felt by so many families at not being at the side of their loved ones in their final hours… but what it can do is pay tribute to their lives, to their contribution to our society, to their memories,” the king said.

King Felipe VI of Spain delivers a speech during a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Fernando Alvarado / POOL / AFP
King Felipe VI of Spain delivers a speech during a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Fernando Alvarado / POOL / AFP

 

For months, tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have been engaged in the frontline battle against the virus, which at its peak, pushed Spain’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse.

“It’s been very hard, we have felt powerless in the face of a cruel sense of uncertainty… we’ve given everything and worked to the limit of our strength,” Aroa Lopez, a nurse from Barcelona, told the ceremony.

Among those attending were EU Council head Charles Michel, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament leader David Sassoli and top EU diplomat Josep Borrell.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus were also present.

The government, which has been severely criticised for its management of the crisis, held a 10-day mourning period for the victims in late May — the longest since Spain returned to democracy after the fall of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975.

Monitoring outbreaks

With the population back on the streets and the borders with Europe and a dozen other countries now open, Spain has seen the number of new infections rising.

The most worrying recent outbreak is in the northeastern city of Lerida and the surrounding area, where the Catalan regional government has issued a stay-home order affecting 160,000 people.

President of the European Commision Ursula von der Leyen (R) leaves a whote rose next to a cauldron as she attends a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Mariscal / POOL / AFP
President of the European Commision Ursula von der Leyen (R) leaves a whote rose next to a cauldron as she attends a state ceremony to honour the 28,400 victims of the coronavirus crisis as well as those public servants who have been fighting on the front line against the pandemic in Spain, on July 16, 2020, at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Mariscal / POOL / AFP

 

Authorities there and in several other regions have stepped up precautions, with mask-wearing compulsory in public at all times, even if the safety distance can be respected.

When the epidemic first hit, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency on March 14, allowing it to impose one of the world’s tightest lockdowns.

But it has ruled out any renewal of the measure, saying the regional health authorities will be able to control outbreaks.

“With the peak behind us, the regions have the necessary tools to tackle particular situations. Fresh outbreaks were expected and are occurring in all countries,” deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said on Tuesday.

 

AFP

Catalan Govt Reimposes Local Lockdown After Legal Tussle

File photo: Healthcare workers prepare to move a COVID-19 coronavirus patient at the Intensive Unit Care of the Povisa Hospital in Vigo, northwestern Spain, on April 16, 2020. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

 

Following a standoff with the courts, the Catalan regional government on Wednesday told residents to stay home in a virus-hit area in and around the northeastern city of Lerida.

Regional officials issued a similar call in several districts of Hospitalet de Llobregat, a city near Barcelona where virus cases have been on the rise.

In the Lerida area, the stay-home order affects around 160,000 people, who are only allowed to leave to go to work, buy food or medication, or to exercise.

The area has already been cut off from the rest of the country since July 4.

But the regional government is refusing to use the term lockdown given that the measures are not as restrictive as those imposed months ago by the central government at the height of the country’s outbreak.

“People can go for a walk and exercise and all the shops will be open,” Catalan government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo said on Tuesday.

Moves to reconfine the local population to their homes triggered a legal standoff on Monday when a local court blocked the new lockdown order, prompting the regional government to enact legislative changes.

In the end, the court agreed overnight to allow the measure for 15 days while demanding that the regional authorities provide regular updates on the status of the outbreak.

Catalan authorities are also watching other pockets of infection in this wealthy northeastern region, notably advising that the residents of three districts of Hospitalet de Llobregat — a city with 260,000 residents — only leave home for urgent necessities.

Spain suffered one of Europe’s most deadly outbreaks of the virus which has so far claimed more than 28,400 lives.

With the health ministry saying there are more than 120 active outbreaks across the country, many regions such as Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Andalusia have stepped up precautions.

In these areas and others, mask-wearing is now compulsory in public at all times, even if the safety distance can be respected.

AFP

Alarm As German Tourists Party In Spain Amid Pandemic

German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a press conference with the president of the Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI, unseen) about "Corona in holiday periods and as a topic for the EU Council Presidency" on July 13, 2020 in Berlin. FABRIZIO BENSCH / POOL / AFP
German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a press conference with the president of the Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI, unseen) about “Corona in holiday periods and as a topic for the EU Council Presidency” on July 13, 2020 in Berlin. FABRIZIO BENSCH / POOL / AFP

 

Germany’s health minister expressed concern on Monday after hundreds of German tourists were seen partying in Mallorca without masks or keeping a safe distance, fuelling fears of another coronavirus wave.

Local media on the Spanish island voiced outrage after video footage showed mainly German holidaymakers drinking, singing, and dancing outside bars and terraces on Friday evening.

One local newspaper dubbed it “chaos” while the German-language Mallorca Zeitung said “it was as if no one had ever heard of the corona pandemic”.

At a press conference in Berlin, Health Minister Jens Spahn said he understood that people wanted to cut loose on vacation, but said they risked undoing the progress made to contain the deadly virus by disregarding health measures.

“The images we’ve seen from Mallorca this weekend worry me,” Spahn said.

Situations where people do not keep the recommended 1.5 metres apart, drink from the same bottle, hug and “seek closeness” while partying and consuming alcohol, “all this of course increases the risk”, he said.

“I’m not here to ruin the fun… but now is not the time for this.”

Mallorca’s sun-soaked beaches and vibrant nightlife make it one of Germany’s most popular holiday destinations.

Thousands of Germans have flown there since EU countries reopened their borders to each other in June.

But concerns that visitors could spark a fresh coronavirus surge on the Balearic Islands prompted the regional government last week to announce hefty fines for those caught organising illegal parties or flouting rules on social distancing and face masks.

Germany’s Spahn warned that Mallorca “must not turn into a second Ischgl”, referring to an Austrian ski resort that became a COVID-19 hotspot and contributed to the spread of the pandemic across Europe.

 

AFP