DOZENS of Brits have been busted drinking and watching the footy during an illegal lock-in at a pub on the Costa del Sol.
Our Bar on Mijas Costa had lowered its blinds and was hosting scores of boozed up customers, mostly from the UK, between 6pm and 8pm on December 19, police said.
Since early December, Andalucia’s coronavirus laws have stated that only cafes can open between these hours, while the serving of alcohol is prohibited.
Guardia Civil suspected people were inside the pub during a patrol of the El Zoco de Calahonda shopping complex.
Officers first spoke to the owners at around 6:30pm, who initially refused to open the blinds or let police inside.
They were forced to call for backup before eventually being allowed to enter the premises.
According to a Guardia Civil report, the establishment was filled with dozens of customers drinking alcohol while failing to wear masks or respect social distancing.
The owners are now facing fines for opening during prohibited hours and for allowing customers to not wear masks while breaching social distancing rules.
The sanction will range from €3,001 to €60,000, depending on how serious the infraction is considered to be by the provincial health authorities.
This will depend on how many people are believed to have been put in danger, among other factors.
The brazen violation came just a few days before Spain introduced severe travel restrictions against travellers from the UK following the discovery of the more contagious variant of COVID-19.
It is now known to be behind at least 16 cases in Andalucia but experts fear the real number is far higher.
A Spanish worker feared to be infected with the strain said the Campo de Gibraltar is ‘completely out of control.’
The young woman, who works on the Costa del Sol but lives in the Campo, and her partner are both waiting to be tested after coming into direct contact with a COVID-19 infected person.
But both have been unable to get through to their health centres and claim they have been left feeling abandoned, all the while showing clear symptoms of the disease.
“The trackers told us that it was most likely to be the UK strain of the virus, but that all they can do is call every other day to see how the symptoms are going,” the worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Olive Press on Wednesday.
“The Campo de Gibraltar is totally out of control, they are not doing tests and we can’t get through to a doctor.
“I am calling five different numbers for the emergency department at my local health centre and I cannot get through.”
It comes after the Junta de Andalucia ordered the closure of eight Campo de Gibraltar towns for fear of the UK strain entering from Gibraltar and spreading like wildfire.
A Junta source who works in the parliament in Sevilla told this paper the new strain is a top concern for the regional government.
“The UK variant is really concerning and has definitely made the Junta more cautious when it comes to making decisions about restrictions,” the source said.
“The new strain arrived just after we had opened up travel between the provinces and allowed for travel from outside the region, potentially creating a perfect storm.
“We will have to see what the figures over the next few days tell us but we are already noticing quite an increase and we are still in the holiday period.”
Regional health minister Jesus Aguirre also said on Tuesday that he was ‘very concerned’ by the new variant.
“Some cases come from people arriving directly from the UK but there are already several who have been infected within the region,” he told a press conference Tuesday.
La Linea, the town bordering Gibraltar, now has a cumulative incidence rate of 700 cases per 100,000 people, with fears the new contagious strain could be behind many more cases than is yet known.
Aguirre told Antena 3 that the Junta is highly concerned that the new strain could be behind a surge in cases in the region over Christmas.
“You can see that the trend was downward before the holidays and in recent days it has been upward,” he added, “so restrictive measures will have to be taken to minimise the effects.”
It comes after Junta sources had said no more than a week ago that the current looser restrictions would be unlikely to change from January 10, the date they are due to end.
But this view may have changed due to the emerging trend of a surge in cases, with the region registering its worst figures since November on Wednesday.
Andalucia has detected more than 2,300 cases in the past 24 hours, its biggest daily count since November 26.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly labelled the establishment in question as an Irish pub, it has been changed accordingly