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Catalonia tightens restrictions to tackle new surge in coronavirus infections - Metro US

Catalonia tightens restrictions to tackle new surge in coronavirus infections

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Barcelona

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Catalonia announced on Monday a tightening of restrictions to tackle an uptick in COVID-19 infections, banning people from leaving their municipality, closing gyms and shopping malls, and allowing only essential shops such as pharmacies to open at the weekend.

The new restrictions in Catalonia, which has Spain’s second-highest number of infections and deaths after Madrid, will start on Thursday and last until Jan. 17.

“We have to stop the transmission and the main way to do so is to reduce all social activity,” Catalan health chief Alba Verges told a news conference, adding that financial aid would be given to the sectors most hit by the new restrictions.

The new measures will not affect bars and restaurants, which can still have clients eat in for breakfast and lunch and offer take-away food for dinner.

Other regions such as Andalusia, Murcia or Extremadura have announced new measures over the past days. Madrid continues to have lighter restrictions than most of the country but has locked down some districts with a higher infection rate.

Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, registering more than 50,000 deaths and close to 2 million cases.

(Reporting by Joan Faus; Additional reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Steve Orlofsky)

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