Tourists in the Spanish Costas have been warned not to ‘act as if you’re on holiday’ as the country remains gripped by a coronavirus health crisis.
Politicians in some of Spain’s top resorts are demanding new arrivals show responsibility to slow the spread of the deadly disease – which has infected more than 4,000 people and caused 120 deaths in Spain alone.
Yesterday Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that the whole country had entered a 15-day state of emergency, an exceptional measure to be formalised today by the Council of Ministers.
Tourists in the Spanish Costas have been warned not to ‘act as if you’re on holiday’ as the country remains gripped by a coronavirus health crisis which has seen bars and restaurants made to close (pictured in Barcelona, Spain)
Beaches are being closed along the two most famous strips of coastline – the Costa Blanca which covers resorts like Benidorm and the Costa del Sol.
The bathing ban is coming into force on the back of the forced closure at midnight last night of all bars, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and cinemas in the Costa Blanca resorts as well as the rest of Alicante and the neighbouring provinces of Castellon and Valencia.
Top politicians in Spain’s southern Andalucia region have already warned they are working on plans to stop people travelling and make them stay indoors unless they need to leave for work or to buy food or medicine.
Normally-bustling streets in Pamplona remained deserted as bars, restaurants and clubs were made to shut at midnight last night
Coronavirus has infected more than 4,000 people and caused 120 deaths in Spain alone. Pictured: Revellers have one last drink before the bar closed at midnight last night
Local police drove around the Costa Blanca resort of Torrevieja yesterday asking people who had arrived from elsewhere to ‘stay indoors.’
Town hall officials in nearby Pilar de la Horadada – home to thousands of British expats and a popular holiday destination 40 miles south of Alicante – said: ‘If you have come to Pilar de la Horadada to enjoy its beaches, magnificent food and fabulous open spaces, we ask you to stay inside until the coronavirus crisis has passed.’
Tourists in Fuengirola woke up today to find the red flag had been hoisted over the resort’s main beach.
Politicians in some of Spain’s top resorts have demanded that new arrivals show responsibility to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Pictured: A bar tender puts up a sign informing customers that the bar is closed
The council said in a statement: ‘Due to the imminent announcement of the State of Alarm, Fuengirola Town Hall has decided to close its beaches to the public from today.
‘We ask people to respect this restriction, which will be signalled with a red flag along the city’s coastline. Sorry for any inconvenience.’
The State of Alarm enables police to restrict peoples’ movement nationwide and could lead to the closure of ports, airports and the train network
A children’s play area on the sand was cordoned off with tape alongside a message which said: ‘Due to the emergency situation caused by the spread of Covid-19, Fuengirola Town Hall has decided to temporarily close all its children’s parks and play areas and ban the use of all the swings that are in open play areas.’
The Costa del Sol beach ban is also in force on the Costa Blanca, with red flags going up in places like Benidorm, Alicante, Finestrat and Vilajoyosa.
Finestrat Town Hall, which has ordered police to cordon off its beach to stop people from even stepping on the sand, said in a statement: ‘Our recommendation is to stay indoors. To avoid concentrations of people, we are closing the beach. Thanks for your cooperation.’
Top politicians in Spain’s southern Andalucia region have already warned they are working on plans to stop people travelling and make them stay indoors unless they need to leave for work or to buy food or medicine. Pictured: A woman wears a mask in a market in Pamplona, northern Spain
Benidorm tourism portal Turismo de Benidorm said in a tweet alongside a Union Jack flag: ‘At these hard times the VisitBenidorm team stands by your side.
‘Stay calm, stayHome, stay safe and let our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter entertain you. We love you all dearly.’
The refusal of many people to heed officials’ recommendations to stay at home and stop the spread of coronavirus, sparked the anger of many full-time Costa residents.
Much of it was directed at people from Madrid and the Basque Country who have second homes in areas like the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol and decamped to the coast to escape the coronavirus crisis which hit worse there earlier.
Former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar and his wife Ana Botella, who have left the Spanish capital for their mansion near Marbella, have come in for criticism on social media.
One angry Spaniard branded them ‘bad citizens’ and ‘toxic.’
And ANC England, a UK-based pro Catalan-independence movement, used the coronavirus to make its own political attack by claiming: ‘Spain is a failed state which has allowed mass spreading of coronavirus with thousands leaving Madrid including former PM Aznar quitting to his Marbella mansion, triggering confinements and barricades across Spain.
But British holidaymakers also came in for criticism over the way they have reacted to the crisis.
Benidorm-based doctor Maria Diaz Gomez posted footage of tourists downing lager in packed bars in the resort’s Little England area ahead of last night’s midnight lockdown banning them from opening for two weeks.
She said: ‘We are on call in Benidorm. Live. Thousand of foreigners ignoring measures to contain the pandemic. How slowly the clock advances towards midnight.’
She added: ‘In a society of “Me” and “Now”, it’s all we can expect.’
Another angry Spaniard, raging against the Brits packing out Gerona Street in the heart of the Little England area, added: ‘Benidorm. Ground zero. Gerona Street. Full of d***heads.’
But another replied: ‘There are thousands of foreigners because many Spaniards opened their bars.
‘I’m all for responsibility, but from everyone.’
There were no immediate reports of any violent incidents or arrests last night linked to the forced closure of bars in places like Benidorm, or in resorts in Majorca and Ibiza.
There, nightclubs were told to shut and the larger bars and restaurants ordered to limit the number of people they let in.
Spanish authorities have implemented a curfew across Catalonia as Spain declares a state of emergency due to coronavirus
No one is able to enter or leave Catalonia – the region of 7.5million inhabitants – including Barcelona, where 509 people have been infected
Police were out in force in the Little England area to ensure nightspots obeyed the lockdown order.
Bolton-born expat Lyndsey Leech said: ‘Everyone’s complaining about the English who wanted to stay outside and drink, but they forget that it’s the fault of people from Madrid that we’re all indoors now.’
Peter Wharton, who is due to fly to Benidorm later today, said: ‘We are due to fly with Jet2 to Benidorm this afternoon.
‘The resort is in lockdown, bars are closed and our hotel advise against travel.
‘Yet Jet2 continue to fly people because the Foreign Office have not advised against travel.’
And John Williams raged at Ryanair: ‘Benidorm have closed all bars and restaurants, yet you have not cancelled your flights to Alicante.
‘The Spanish see fit to shut the place because of the risk yet you’re quite happy to take our money and continue to fly there.
‘Do the right thing.’
Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez has already said the number of coronavirus cases in the country can reach 10,000 next week.
More than 4,000 people have currently caught the virus and 120 people have died, although the number of deaths are expected to rise sharply as in Italy over the coming days.
The introduction of the State of Alarm is expected to result in people being forced to stay indoors unless they have a justified reason to leave home.
The Balearic Islands president Francina Armengol has asked Pedro Sanchez to restrict as much as possible the numbers of flights to and from the holiday destination.
Spanish authorities yesterday implemented a curfew across Catalonia.
The President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, ordered the total closure of Catalonia to stop the spread of the virus.
As of midnight, no one will be able to enter or leave the region of 7.5million inhabitants where 509 people have been infected.
Pictured: British holidaymakers watching Cheltenham races poolside after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a ‘state of emergency’
Catalonia encompasses the provinces of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Lleida.
‘The evolution of contagion requires us to be more drastic,’ said Mr Torra, who appeared at 8.30pm at the Palau de la Generalitat to announce this new measure to combat coronavirus.
He added: ‘We are ready to confine the country.
‘We have responded to other great challenges. But we need the collaboration of the state in structures that are not our competence: ports, airports and the railway system.’
Caption: Britons watching Cheltenham races today poolside in Benidorm while Spain goes into a ‘state of emergency’ and locks down the whole country
Meanwhile, regional government chiefs are issuing an emergency order limiting freedom of movement in seven coastal municipalities for the next fortnight.
The order is set to lead to the closure of discos, bars and restaurants.
Closures in resorts like Benidorm, as well as other holiday hotspots along the Costa Blanca, came into effect at midnight.
The order covers the whole of the Valencian community which includes the provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante.
Benidorm is part of the province of Alicante.
A statement from the regional government released yesterday said: ‘The closure of bars and restaurants, shows and public and private sports centres comes into effect from midnight tonight.’
Karen Maling Cowles, president of the Benidorm British Business Association, said yesterday afternoon the word was still getting round to owners of bars and other nightspots in the famous resort that they would have to close at midnight and remain shut for the next fortnight.
She said: ‘The regional government order doesn’t covers things like chemists and garages but it covers cafes, restaurants, bars and other businesses like gyms, basically all places where you get people congregating for leisure reasons.
‘It’s all happened very suddenly and I think it’s hit people in the face very suddenly.
Pictured: Hundreds of people can be seen poolside in Benidorm shortly after the Spanish prime minister announced a state of emergency
Pictured: Tourists lunching in Benidorm, just before Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a ‘State of Emergency’
Pictured: Tourists wander through the streets of Benidorm just moments before the Spanish government announced a ‘state of emergency’
Pictured: Holidaymakers in Benidorm. A statement from the regional government said: ‘The closure of bars and restaurants, shows and public and private sports centres comes into effect from midnight tonight’
‘Everywhere in Spain is going to be in the same situation very shortly.
‘I’m telling people we’re all going to be in the same boat and we can rebuild ourselves.
‘It’s important to stick together and not fight or bicker but help each other as much as we can.
‘I am concerned for young people who are living here day to day, people who don’t have contacts that depend on their money.
‘They’re my concern in terms of the local community.
Tourists walk next to the beach in Benidorm. Movement in seven coastal cities, which includes Alicante, where the tourist spot is located, will be limited from midnight tonight
Pictured: Areas along the Costa del Sol where clubs, pubs, discos and restaurants will be closed from midnight tonight
A screen shows Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaking as he announces the state of emergency for 15 days due to coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain
Pictured: The beach town of Benidorm in an undated file photo. Benidorm, which is part of the province of Alicante, will have restaurants and bars closed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak
‘And in terms of the holidaymakers, there’s going to be a lot of people who are twiddling their thumbs tonight.
‘Lock-ins are banned and bars who organise them will be fined.
‘People are still receiving the message now about the closure and I am taking calls from people wanting to check if it affects them.
‘The word is still getting around because it’s happening so fast. It’s really hitting people in the face today.’
Pictured: The areas where community transmission is happening, which are of particular concern for the Spanish government
A handout picture provided by the Moncloa Press Office shows Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez during a presser after a meeting on the coronavirus situation at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain
She added: ‘I would urge holidaymakers who are out and about tonight to respect the closure orders when they come in.
‘The police are going to enforce them. I am sure people will understand this is a public order emergency and cooperate with what the authorities are telling them they must do.’
Bars in Benidorm were busy this afternoon ahead of the closure order coming into effect.
Tourist Mike Jarman, from Birmingham, on his way to meet friends for a boozy afternoon, said: ‘I’m on the second day of my holiday.
‘It was meant to be a week of fun away with some mates but this is going to change everything.
‘If I had known it was going to be this bad I would never have come.’
Police checkpoints are now due to be set up to stop the free movement of people into or out of the lockdown areas, which include the municipality of San Javier covering La Manga.
Pictured: An undated aerial photograph of the La Manga, Principe Felipe Hotel in Spain. Police checkpoints are now due to be set up to stop the free movement of people into or out of the lockdown areas, which include the municipality of San Javier covering La Manga
No-one was immediately available for comment at one of the best-known resorts in the area, the La Manga Club Resort, to explain the order’s practical effects for British tourists already staying there and those scheduled to check in.
Murcia’s regional government announced the measure yesterday after the massive arrival of Spaniards from higher risk areas include Madrid.
It came after Glamorgan announced it had called off their pre-season tour of La Manga because of the coronavirus crisis. They were scheduled to fly out on March 19.
Four towns in the province of Barcelona were placed on lockdown on Thursday night.
An undated file photograph shows an aerial view of Alicante city
A man wearing a face mask as a precaution against coronavirus passes by Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain
Switzerland, Luxembourg and most of Germany have shuttered their schools in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus
It is the second time the state of emergency has been enforced in Spain.
The first time was in 2010, with the air traffic controller crisis.
Sánchez said the order was for 15 days. He has asked the whole of Spain to follow expert to stop the virus from spreading.
‘The heroism is about washing one’s hands and staying at home. It will take weeks, it will be difficult and but we will overcome this emergency,’ he said.
A couple, wearing protective face masks, walk through an unusually empty Plaza Mayor square due to the coronavirus outbreak in central Madrid, Spain
Pictured: Tito’s in Mallorca, one of the most visited clubs on the island, announced its temporary closure
Red Cross members demonstrate hygiene measures in Madrid where Britons have now been advised to avoid travelling unless necessary because of coronavirus
Groom Rafael (centre, right) and bride Miki (left), both protected with face masks, leave a civil registry after getting married in Madrid, Spain. Madrid’s local authorities decreed that all wedding ceremonies must be held behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease. Only the couple, the witnesses and the officiant are allowed to attend the ceremony
A worker shuts the doors of the stunning medieval cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain
Pilgrims wearing face masks lift up their backpacks after finishing their pilgrimage on the Way of St James at the Praza do Obradoiro square in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain. The stunning medieval cathedral of Santiago has been closed amid the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease
An elderly woman wears a protective face mask as she carries a bag with food products, amidst concerns over Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona
People wearing face masks as a precaution against coronavirus (Covid-19) are seen at Plaza Mayor Square in Madrid, Spain
Tourists are seen as the closure of the Alhambra was announced due to coronavirus in Granada, Spain
Catalan police officers stop a car trying to get into Igualada, one of four towns closed down by regional authorities, at a checkpoint near Barcelona this morning