A 70% rise in COVID-19 cases in the last week has forced the Murcia government to ban alcohol sales in shops after 10.00 pm.

They’ve also placed a ten person limit on gatherings between people who did not live together.

Murcia Health Minister, Juan Jose Pedreño, described the rise in infections as ‘worrying’.

56.3% of new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days were among people aged between 15 and 29 years.

The alcohol sales and gathering restrictions are targeting that age group to prevent illegal outdoor botellon drinks parties.

Tough measures in the neighbouring Valencian Community appear to have had little impact on incidents.

Police were kept busy over the weekend in that region, with young people flagrantly breaking rules.

That included around a thousand participants in botellons in the Torrevieja area and a house party with 150 guests in Benissa.

Juan Jose Pedreño also announced that 31 Murcia municipalities have also been graded as ‘high risk’ infection areas and will have to limit indoor capacity in bars and restaurants to 30%.

The municipalities are Abarán, Aguilas, Alcantarilla, Los Alcazares, Aledo, Alhama, Archena, Beniel, Blanca, Caravaca, Cartagena, Fortuna, Fuente Alamo, Jumilla, Librilla, Lorquí, Mazarron, Molina, Mula, Murcia, Pliego, San Javier, San Pedro, Santomera, Torre Pacheco, Torres de Cotillas, Totana, Ulea, La Unión, Villanueva del Segura and Yecla.

The measures will not apply to previously-authrorised events like music festivals.

The big concern in Murcia is to keep pressure down on its health service and to minimise hospitalisations.

Juan Jose Pedreño said: “There is more demanded of the primary healthcare system and it is the true main front against the pandemic.”

The return of a curfew between 1.00 am and 6.00 am in some municipalities or across the region has been proposed by some Murcia public health scientists, but was rejected for the time being.

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