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Spain to close all hotels, help nursing homes

Christian Fernsby ▼ | March 20, 2020
The Spanish government yesterday ordered the closure of all the country’s hotels and promised to implement special measures in nursing homes after a surge in the country’s coronavirus cases and deaths.
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Health in Spain   Spain hotel
Officials reported deaths had jumped by more than a third yesterday to 767, while the number of cases rose by a quarter to 17,149, making Spain the second worst hit country in Europe after Italy.

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The government decreed all hotels and other tourist accommodation be shut within seven days to “guarantee the containment of the pandemic,” a further hit to the country’s already ailing tourism sector.

Spain, the second most visited country in the world in 2018, has already closed its land borders to all but its nationals and residents.

Long term boarding houses were exempted from the closure, but still subjected to a state of emergency imposed by the government almost a week ago that bars people from all but essential outings.

“The toughest moments are still to come, those moments when we will continue to see an increase in the number of cases,” Health Minister Salvador Illa said earlier on Thursday.

Several thousand troops have been deployed in dozens of cities across the country to help with decontamination efforts, triage and policing. Army units were deployed for the first time on Thursday in the independence-minded region of Catalonia, for disinfection tasks at Barcelona’s airport and port.

Authorities said 49 people had been arrested for flouting the movement bans in the past few hours.

The restrictions were giving “very good results” almost a week in, Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told reporters. Road traffic has fallen to one tenth from the same period in 2019, air traffic by more than a half, while medium and long distance trains had only a 2% occupancy, he said, adding there were no plans to fully shut down air traffic.