Spain and Greece Tighten Local COVID-19 Restrictions As Delta Variant Spreads
Anticipating an influx of British tourists next week, Spain and Greece are tightening local COVID-19 restrictions as the Delta variant spreads around the world.
Evening curfews have been reinstated in more than 30 Mediterranean towns, including charming Valencia, set where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea.
In the Catalan region, a measure to close bars at 12:30 a.m. and prohibit eating and drinking in public areas is being considered, Reuters reported. Dr. Rafael Bengoa, cofounder of Bilbao's Institute for Health and Strategy, told the news service that he believed the country was becoming an expert in the premature easing of restrictions.
Coronavirus infection rates in Spain have tripled in the past couple of weeks, and major tourist destinations aren't being spared. The week of July 5, Spain reported 120,351 new cases of COVID-19, according to the latest available data from the World Health Organization — a more than 82% increase from the prior week.
"The data are more than worrying, they are frankly very, very bad," Catalonia's public health secretary Josep Maria Argimon recently told journalists in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, in Greece, vaccination efforts have stalled, leading to a spike in COVID-19 cases. "After a year and a half, no one can claim ignorance about the coronavirus anymore," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised news conference covered by The Evening Standard.
Greece reported nearly 12,000 new COVID-19 infections the week of July 5, according to WHO, an increase of more than 156% from the prior week. Still, Mitsotakis made clear that Greece would not be locking down again. "The country will not shut down again due to attitude adopted by certain people," he said. "It's not Greece that's a danger, but unvaccinated Greeks."
Greece is requiring customers dining at restaurants bars, and cafes to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Customers planning to visit nightclubs and theaters will also need to prove they have been vaccinated, Reuters reported.
Outdoor dining will be allowed without proof of vaccination or the requirement of a COVID-19 test.
Fully vaccinated British travelers are set to be cleared for travel to Spain and Greece without quarantine beginning July 19.