BARCELONA, Spain -- Police in Barcelona closed down access to a large area of the city’s beaches on Saturday after too many sunbathers ignored authorities' request to stay at home amid a new wave of surging coronavirus infections.
Police blocked more people from entering the beach and used loudspeakers to recommend that the crowds already on the sand disperse because they were too closely packed and could increase the contagion risk.
Barcelona and other areas of Spain's northeastern Catalonia region have experienced the largest outbreaks in the country since the European country ended a strict three-month nationwide lockdown that succeeded in reining in a savage outbreak that has claimed over 28,400 lives.
Catalan health authorities on Saturday reported over 1,200 new daily cases.
The new outbreaks have forced regional officials to prohibit gatherings of over 10 people in the city, an edict that took effect Saturday. They also strongly recommended that residents of Barcelona and neighboring municipalities only leave home for work or necessary errands.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa urged Barcelona residents to follow the guidelines issued by the regional Catalan authorities.
The mandatory use of face masks is rapidly spreading across Spain as officials grapple with more than 180 active outbreaks, most of them in Catalonia and the neighboring Aragon region.
Overall, Europe has seen over 199,000 virus deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll is the pandemic is even higher than that, due to limited testing and other reasons.
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