MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s health ministry on Wednesday scrapped a nationwide plan to gradually reopen nightlife just a week after introducing it, following widespread complaints from regional authorities who dismissed it as either too strict or too loose.
The plan, which would have allowed areas with low infection rates to open nightclubs until 3 a.m., drew the ire of several regions and a legal challenge from Madrid’s conservative leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso.
After a week of tension, health chiefs from Spain’s 17 regions unanimously approved a revised version of the document on Wednesday in which the rules are reduced to non-binding guidelines, Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters.
“The measures for the hospitality sector are no longer included in the document, and those for nightlife…are now recommendations,” she said at a news conference.
“It doesn’t mean that (clubs) will open everywhere, but rather that each region, depending on its epidemiological situation, will decide how to open,” she added.
While Madrid’s Ayuso, who won a landslide election campaigning for looser COVID-19 measures, slammed the plan as restricting civil liberties, Basque leader Inigo Urkullu said he wanted tougher rules to curb infections, highlighting the stark divisions between regions.
Since a nationwide state of emergency expired a month ago restrictions on travel and business have eased, with bars in most regions open until midnight or later.
Transmission has fallen steadily as vaccination rates have picked up, Darias said, adding that Spain’s 14-day infection rate had fallen 5% over the week to 111.9 cases per 100,000 people.
Provisional data showed 24% of the population had received a full course of vaccine, while nearly 43% had at least one dose.
One of a handful of countries participating in an early rollout of the European Union’s digital vaccine certificate, Spain has given out nearly 125,000 of the green cards since Monday, Darias said.
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