Spaniards have celebrated the end of a six-month national night-time Covid curfew with raucous New Years Eve-style early hours’ street parties.
Large groups of revellers chanted ‘Freedom’ and sang songs as they unleashed their emotions and boozed on take-out alcohol after the threat of fines of more than £500 was lifted.
There were reports of clashes between partygoers and police in some parts of Madrid as officers tried to dissolve large gatherings of people without face masks on.
The surreal scenes, dubbed today by local media as a New Year’s Eve night in May, came 48 hours after Spain’s popular Brit holiday destinations were hit with the hammer blow of failing to make the UK’s ‘green list’.
The bizarre end to a six-month Spanish government-imposed state of alarm which provided the legal framework for restrictions including the night-time curfew, meant millions of Spaniards had to be indoors by 11pm on Saturday but were free to go out at midnight.
Many youngsters in Spain’s two largest cities Barcelona and Madrid are said to have carried on partying anyway as they counted down the 60 minutes to the recovery of their freedom of movement.
The end of the state of alarm has given rise to a confusing situation in Spain in which Covid restrictions vary wildly between regions.
Restrictions on movement around the country have been lifted, meaning the Costa resorts currently deprived of British tourists can welcome back holidaymakers from across the country.
The night-time curfew has been lifted in most parts of Spain including its most populated region Andalucia which covers the Costa del Sol where restaurants can open till midnight and late-night bars and nightclubs until 2am.
But the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, which includes the Costa Blanca, are maintaining their night-time curfews.
Late on Saturday night 16 people were arrested for public order offences after gathering in a city centre square in the Majorcan capital Palma as the local 11pm curfew kicked in and allegedly throwing missiles including stones at police when they were ordered to leave the area.
Spain is hoping to make the UK’s green list in the next British government announcement on the traffic-light system at the start of June.
Portugal and Gibraltar have been put on the green list and tourists will be able to travel there from May 17, but Spain including the Balearic and Canary Islands have been given amber status meaning quarantine on top of expensive Covid tests.
Ibiza hotel owner Jose Antonio Llano Mari, president of the PIMEEF association of small and medium-sized business on the island and neighbouring Formentera, branded the decision a ‘massive blow.’
He said: ‘It’s a great disappointment. We have begun to receive cancellations. It’s been immediate.’
Claiming the Balearic Islands should have been treated separately from the Spanish mainland because of their lower rate of coronavirus contagion, he told newspaper Periodico de Ibiza: ‘The Spanish government and our regional government should make the British government change this decision so we’re treated as independent islands to the rest of Spain.’
Iago Negueruela, the Balearic Islands’ government’s tourism minister, added: ‘The decision penalises us because London is treating Spain as a country when there are many regions with much higher average contagion rates than ours.’
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