THE Balearic Islands has introduced new restrictions in response to a surge in coronavirus cases.

These measures will come into force from this Saturday, July 24, and are aimed at curbing a sharp increase in infections among young people.

Announced by government spokesman and tourism minister Iago Negueruela, this new set of restrictions hopes to crackdown on illegal house parties and outdoor drinks gatherings known as botellons.

Social gatherings between people that do not live together will now be prohibited between the hours of 1am and 6am both indoors and outdoors.

Those found breaking the rule will be fined between €1,000 and €5,000.

Bars and restaurants across the Balearics will also have to close at 1am, one hour earlier than the current closing hour.

The minister explained that the objective of these two measures would be to ‘directly stop the excesses’, meaning the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, and to ‘control spaces where the most number of infections are originating from’.

“These are aimed at two activities, botellons and illegal parties, as well as people between 16 and 39 years old,” said Negueruela.

As well as having to close one hour earlier, bars and restaurants must also reduce the number of diners sat at each table.

Indoors, this will be capped from six to four people, and on terraces, from 12 to eight people.

In regards to the outdoor use of face masks, revealed on Monday to be part of the new set of restrictions, the minister said that after internal discussions, this rule would not now be reintroduced.

“At this moment, we will not toughen the conditions of the face mask, however, we recommend their use when the distance of a meter and a half cannot be guaranteed,” added Negueruela.

Pressed on the new restrictions at a press conference this morning, president Francina Armengol defended the measures, citing that they ‘were absolutely necessary’.

“The prohibition of social gatherings from 1am has been enforced to fight against botellons, crowds and late night parties,” said Armengol.

“We must all remember that these are the two activites where the largest number of infections are being detected.”

It comes as a COVID-19 outbreak has been detected in the Posada dels Olors nursing home in Arta.

Although not revealing the number of elderly people who have tested positive, health minister Patricia Gomez said that ‘most do not have symptoms or have in a very mild form’.

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