As the Spanish authorities admit that the country could be facing the start of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections, officers from the Guardia Civil and Policía Local de Xàbia were called to an illegal gathering of more than 100 people in a house in the southern zone of the town in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Police arrived at 3.30am after receiving a complaint about music and noise coming from a house in Camí Vell de la Granadella and found a big party in progress, something specifically prohibited in the latest autonomous decree 11/2020 issued by the Generalitat Valenciana just days earlier to regulate the health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the region. The police broke up the party immediately and took the details of everyone attending in case there was an outbreak of infection and they needed to traced for testing. The organisers of the party, who rent the house, were also charged with a serious infraction offence as outlined in decree 11/2020 which could attract a fine up to 30,000 euros.
Police officers from both forces also carried out a number of inspections of entertainment venues in the Arenal on Saturday night in response to the disturbing scenes of a blatant disregard for COVID-19 health protocols the previous weekend [read more], checking that venues had adopted and were following the required health and safety measures, resulting in several infraction reports.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 infection has begun to rise again across Spain with more than 1,000 cases a day now being reported. With a R reproduction value of 1.3 – this number measures how quickly a virus can spread through a population – and having been above 1 for a couple of weeks, the virus is slowly spreading once again and hospital admission across the country have been increasing for some 10 days to figures not seen since May.
Experts admit that they are not surprised by the new outbreaks after the country emerged out of lockdown as people become more confident and engage in more social contact with friends and enjoy family reunions. They also accused the Spanish government of taking the country out of lockdown too quickly and before effective track-and-trace systems were ready. There are some positives though; the number of deaths from COVID-19 have not been rising which suggests that the virus may have become less lethal as it is infecting more young people who are more likely to recover. Another consequence is that the average age of new cases has dropped from 60 to 48.
The Spanish government said there are no plans for a new lockdown at the moment and that it would support regional authorities in their individual fights against the spread of the infection, recalling how these authorities criticised central government for its handling of the crisis earlier in the year and calling on them to reflect on their own management attempts: “it’s not that easy or simple”.
In response to the rise in new cases, the UK government swiftly removed Spain from its list of countries exempt from quarantine measures and from midnight on Saturday, travellers arriving in the UK from Spain must now self-isolate for 14 days or face fines and criminal charges for consistent breaches. The decision has left hundreds of thousands of British tourists already in Spain left to enjoy the rest of their holiday with the knowledge that they must go straight into quarantine on arrival back in the UK. Tourism officials in the Canary Islands and Balearics, which record low infection rates, have called on the UK government to consider changing the rules to exclude the islands whilst Valencian president Ximo Puig has also called on the UK to consider the same for our region, particularly the Costa Blanca which has an infection rate lower than the UK. In response to the decision, the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez declared that “Spain is safe. It is safe for Spaniards and it is safe for tourists”.