CATALONIA has today urged more than four million people around its capital Barcelona to stay at home as coronavirus cases continued to rocket.
The region is the worst of 150 Spanish outbreaks and neighbouring France is mulling closing its borders — but beachgoers appear to be snubbing pleas to stay at home as temperatures rose above 30C.
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Spain has so far recorded 260,000 Covid-19 cases and 28,400 are known to have died.
But while alarmed authorities pleaded for people to stay home, people were today sunbathing and playing in the sea along Barcelona's beaches.
As police patrolled in masks to ensure social distancing at the city’s beach, a favourite with tourists, reached capacity and had to be closed to new bathers this afternoon.
People were queueing to access the beach.
Earlier in the day, authorities urged the more than 96,000 residents of three Catalan towns to stay home as part of a toughened response to the crisis.
On Friday, some four million people, including in Barcelona, were advised to leave their home only for essential trips.
When asked why he had come to the beach despite the advice, one 24-year-old beach goer told Reuters: "Staying at home in the summer is stifling and stressful.
"I work five days a week and can't spend every day at home. My mental health comes first."
The latest figures from Catalonia's regional health ministry today showed a daily increase of 944 cases.
The stay-home call stops short of imposing a mandatory lockdown, but is the strongest measure taken to returning people to home confinement since Spain emerged from a nationwide lockdown on June 21.
The new measures also include a ban on meetings of over 10 people.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed to open, but at 50 percent capacity inside and with a two metre (6.5-foot) distance between tables outside.
Spain was one of Europe's hardest-hit countries by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, with more than 28,000 deaths.
Since the national lockdown ended, more than 170 infection clusters have sprung up, prompting regional authorities to impose a patchwork of local restrictions.
Tourist hotspot Benidorm is under threat from a new coronavirus outbreak after a family of four all tested positive for the bug.
It could become the third coronavirus outbreak in the Alicante region with eight new positive cases in the past day bringing the total number of infections to 4,027.
Meanwhile bars on Magaluf party streets have been ordered to close down amid a no-nonsense crackdown on drunken tourists from the UK and Germany.
Businesses on the Punta Ballena strip were suddenly shut down on Wednesday night, leaving young Brit holidaymakers reeling.
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