MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday that his government was considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“This is not a number we have pulled out of nowhere,” Sanchez told a news conference with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte in Mallorca.
“It is a number which health professionals, scientists have told us is sufficiently rigorous and restrictive to prevent another surge in infections,” he said.
The central government is still negotiating the next round of restrictions with regional authorities, meaning some changes could be introduced.
Following a summit of regional health chiefs, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the talks were progressing well but that no agreement had yet been reached.
“We want to produce a set of recommendations that will generate the maximum possible consensus,” he told reporters, adding that he hoped to reach an accord next week.
Some regional health chiefs, including in Catalonia and Madrid, are advocating for a less stringent limit of 10 people for holiday gatherings.
“There has been an improvement across all territories but we are appealing for caution, especially this December,” Illa said.
While the rate of infection in Spain has slowed in the past month, its overall tally of just over 1.6 million cases is the second highest in western Europe after France.
The health ministry recorded 10,222 new cases on Wednesday, while the death toll rose by 369 to 44,037, slowing from the previous day’s jump of 537, which marked a record for the second wave.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander, Clara-Laeila Laudette and Alexandra Hudson)