MURCIA has been forced to reintroduce restrictions on nightlife venues following a string of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks.

Such establishments will only be permitted to open their terraces and outdoor areas while all customers must be seated.

People can still meet up in groups but the maximum number has been lowered to 15, both in public and private.

The new changes were announced by regional health minister Manuel Villegas, who also reported the temporary closure of day centres for the elderly in Cieza and Totana. Both towns and Murcia city will also see restrictions on visiting nursing homes.

There has been a steady increase in cases in recent days, all linked to three people who travelled to Murcia from Bolivia a month ago.

The outbreak now counts for 105 of the total 158 positive cases in the Murcia region.

Some 20 of those are in hospital while just one is in intensive care.

Of the 105 latest, 40 caught the virus from nightlife venues in the Atalayas area, in Murcia, which closed their doors on Friday.

Villegas is now calling on anyone who has been out clubbing in July either in the Atalayas area or in Totana, where three infections have been found, to request a PCR test as soon as possible.

Some 900 people have already requested a test this weekend alone.

The health minister added that anyone who is told to self-isolate for 14 days should do so, regardless of the result of their test.

The outbreaks, he said, are affected people aged between 20 and 40 the most, but they are spreading it to their relatives and contacts too, with babies and elderly among the newly infected.

He has also insisted on the vital importance of respecting the quarantines prescribed by the medical services, even when a person has had a negative result in the PCR.

“If the quarantines are not respected and there is laxity in the measures, the curve will rise again, hospital admissions will increase and, unfortunately, there will be problems,” he warned.

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