Spain is trying to strike a delicate balance between opening up while keeping infections in check. | MDB files


Spain's Canary Islands have joined the Mediterranean region of Valencia in petitioning the central government to bring back a mandatory night curfew to counter soaring COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated youngsters.

Nationwide, cases had been dwindling over recent months but began to surge from the middle of June, propelled by the more contagious Delta variant and more socialising among younger groups.

However, even though hospital admissions have begun to edge up, they remain far below levels seen earlier this year, while national intensive care occupancy stands at less than 7%.
Daily deaths have been steadily declining since April as the most vulnerable groups, such as elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions, have been vaccinated.

Since the state of alarm expired in May, regional authorities have been in charge of their COVID-19 response but they need court authorisation or a government decree for the strictest measures like lockdowns, travel bans and curfews.

The Canaries' regional government said late on Thursday it would ask its High Court to authorise a curfew between 12.30 and 6am in Tenerife, which has the highest coronavirus incidence among the islands.

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Defending the measure, regional leader Angel Victor Torres told Cadena Ser radio on Friday it would help avoid crowds of youngsters building up at nighttime, particularly over the weekends.

"Pressure on hospitals is starting to grow. In Tenerife, ICU occupancy is at around 15% and young people are being admitted to intensive care," he said.

Valencia, which is home to the popular resort of Benidorm, and the central region of Castile and Leon, had already asked the central government for curfews, but Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Wednesday that they were "not on the table."

Highly dependent on tourism, Spain is trying to strike a delicate balance between opening up enough to entice back travellers while keeping infections in check to avoid putting off potential visitors.

Britain, which was Spain's largest source of foreign tourists before the pandemic, announced earlier on Friday that it planned to scrap a 10-day quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers returning from other countries in the coming weeks.

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