Police across Spain raid parties amid COVID restrictions

A worker uses disinfectant to clean ballot boxes containing personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies at Sant Antoni Market, which will be a polling station for the February 14th regional election, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Barcelona, Spain

Police across Spain have wrapped a weekend of cracking down on parties and boozing in public contravening restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Large parties ignoring social distancing, mask wearing and existing curfews were closed down in Ibiza, northeastern Tarragona and many other parts of the country, which has only recently slowed down the sharp increase of contagion seen after the end-of-year celebrations.

In Madrid alone, police fined 450 people for street alcohol consumption in groups and busted 418 illegal parties in entertainment venues and private homes from Friday to Sunday, including a rave in a warehouse with 55 adults and 11 minors who were not wearing masks and were using drugs.

The National Police also found over 50 people in a small apartment rented for tourists in the center of the Spanish capital.

The parties are increasingly better organized to attract foreign visitors and avoid scrutiny, the local police say, with no cash exchanged and payments via phone. In contrast with much of Europe, where entertainment venues have been closed, bars and restaurants in Madrid are allowed to open until 9 p.m.

Spain has managed to lower its 14-day rate of infection per 100,000 residents, from nearly 900 cases in Jan. 27 to less than 500 on Friday, but experts are warning against relaxing restrictions too fast, given that COVID-19 wards in hospitals are still grappling with high occupation rates.

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