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Spain restricts some nightlife as virus surges among young


Faced with soaring numbers of new coronavirus infections among unvaccinated young people, some Spanish regions are rolling back curbs on nightlife only weeks after dropping them. Fearing that the surging contagion could strain health care services as stressed employees try to go on summer holidays, health officials in several parts of the country are also rushing to get COVID-19 vaccine shots to people under 30. Spain’s strict vaccination rollout has so far focused on older, more vulnerable groups, leaving for this summer the vaccination of teenagers and people in their 20s.

So far, nearly 40% of Spain’s 47 million people have been fully vaccinated, one of the highest levels in Europe, but the share falls to one in ten vaccinated in the 20-29 age group and a meager 0.6% for youngsters up to 20. On Friday, the last time pandemic updates were published by the Health Ministry, the 14-day contagion rate among those 20 to 29 was nearly three times the national average of 153 new cases per 100,000 residents. New infections have also spread among teenagers as a result of trips and parties to celebrate the end of the school year. Thousands have been forced to go into isolation nationwide after more than 1,000 infections were tied to student trips to Spain’s Mallorca islands. At least 700 others have tested positive in mass screenings in the northern Navarra region among students who went to a beach resort last month.

Authorities in Navarra are seeing more than 500 new infections a day, a level not reached since the country’s second virus resurgence in October. In response, they announced that bars and nightclubs will go back to closing at 1 a.m. instead of 3 a.m. Nightlife will be completely shut down in at least 16 towns of the northern Cantabria region, which leads the nation’s infection tallies. A spike in coronavirus infections is also hitting the northeastern Catalonia region. Authorities there have invited people over 16 to receive their virus shots after a seven-fold increase of infections in the past two weeks, reaching more than 3,000 new confirmed cases in the past few days. The rebound in cases has so far led to comparatively lower hospital admissions than previous surges because COVID-19 leads to fewer complications among the young people, but health care centers and contagion contact tracers are struggling to handle an overload of cases. A federation of nightlife business owners has issued a statement saying that their industry is being used as a “scapegoat” for the new surge in infections and urged authorities instead to crack down on illegal booze parties.