Spain's health minister, Salvador Illa. | Efe

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Spain's health minister, Salvador Illa, announced on Friday that there was agreement with regional governments to adopt specific measures to counter the rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

"There have been a number of growing outbreaks in recent weeks, and so I am announcing that we have decided to adopt coordinated actions for public health matters for the first time."

The regions have therefore agreed to the closure of all discos, clubs and cocktail bars. For the rest of the hospitality sector, closing time will be 1am. There are to be reinforced controls to prevent drinking in public places (e.g. the "botellón" parties), while smoking "on the public way and in open-air spaces" will be prohibited in situations where social distancing of 1.5 metres is not possible.

For care homes for the elderly, visits will be limited to one hour. There is also a recommendation to limit social gatherings to no more than ten people, where these gatherings are "outside the coexistence group".

This is the first time that the government and the regions have activated Level 2 of the coordination envisaged under the Early Response Plan in the event of the need to control spread of the virus. Illa stressed that the measures "are applicable to the whole of the Spanish territory".

The minister urged young people to be "disciplined" and to comply with preventive measures and stressed the need for regional administrations and town halls to apply sanctions against the botellón. "Let's be clear. Drinking in the street is prohibited. You cannot drink in the street."

He added that nightlife does not produce more outbreaks than other activities, but that contact-tracing is more difficult and that numbers specific to an outbreak centred on nightlife are higher.

* Some of this is going to require clarification; it's not yet, for instance, been made clear when the measures apply.

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