VIDEOS: Beach parties and big Easter gatherings see fears of fourth wave in Spain rise

VIDEOS: Beach parties and big Easter gatherings see fears of fourth wave in Spain rise
Barceloneta beach in Barcelona over the Easter holidays. Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP
Spanish police have had to break up dozens of illegal gatherings across the country over the Easter break, with health authorities fearing the country’s already increasing infection rate will rise even further as a result.

With inter-regional travel off the cards over Holy Week for Spanish nationals and residents, and thousands of EU tourists fleeing their own nations’ restrictions to spend their Easter holidays in Spain, the country’s cities and towns have had almost as much hustle and bustle as in a normal year this Semana Santa.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a rise in the number of gatherings of more than six people (the legal limit in most regions, in some it’s four), and in many cases participants were not sticking to the safety distance or wearing a face mask either.

On Friday, dozens of young people were filmed dancing at Barceloneta beach in central Barcelona with not a face mask in sight.

The scenes have angered many in the Catalan capital, where bars and restaurants have to close at 5pm under current coronavirus restrictions.

The final of Spain’s Copa del Rey between Atlético de Bilbao and Real Sociedad also saw thousands of football fans gather in the two Basque cities to wave off their teams as they left for Seville on their team buses.

In both gatherings, fans failed to stick to the required 1.5 metre safety distance and many are seen not wearing face masks

In the Spanish capital, Madrid Municipal Police have had to break up almost 100 illegal gatherings over the Easter holidays.

Whereas in March police stopped 353 clandestine parties, mostly held in people’s apartments, over Holy Week revellers have taken to Madrid’s streets and squares due to the accompanying good weather, not respecting curfew hours or group limits.

A number of illegal parties at bars and nightclubs which were held behind closed doors in Madrid have also been broken up over Semana Santa.

On the Canary island of Tenerife, dozens of beachgoers gathered together for an improvised boxing match, with nobody appearing to wear a face mask. 

The lack of respect for coronavirus rules over Easter comes just as Spain’s 14-day cumulative infection rate was returning to high risk levels.

Having dropped to 128 cases per 100,000 people on March 18th, by April 1st Spain’s average infection rate had crawled up to 152 per 100,000, past the “high risk” threshold of 150.

More than half of Spain’s provinces had recorded an increase in cases ahead of the Easter holidays, with the regions of Madrid, Navarre, the Baque Country and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla all reporting fortnightly infection rates above 250 cases per 100,000, which put them in the “very high” or “extreme” risk classification.

The full extent of the influx in mobility over Easter in Spain – and the consequences of the rise in illegal gatherings held over this period – will be revealed in the coming days when Spain’s 17 regions report their newest infection rates.

If it’s anything to go on, Spain underwent its third coronavirus wave as a result of the rise in infections over the Christmas period.

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