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Coronavirus: Barcelona beaches packed after fed-up locals ignore stay-at-home advice amid COVID-19 spike | World News

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It’s as hot as you’d expect in Barcelona at the height of the summer, but people are wearing extra garments.

Everywhere you look people are sporting masks. Some the typical surgical blue, some colourful, some adorned with the flag of this region, Catalonia.

The region has seen the worst incidence of COVID-19 cases in Spain since the lifting of the national lockdown last month, and the wearing of face coverings in public is now mandatory (except of course when grabbing a bite to eat).

But whilst most are adhering to the measure, many are ignoring the “advice” to stay home and to only go out for essential business like work or to see the doctor.

They’re fed up of weeks indoors and seizing the opportunity to enjoy the weather.

You only had to see Barcelona’s beaches this weekend to sense the desperation to enjoy the great outdoors.

Police turning people away to limit the numbers (they’ve actually been doing that since the national lockdown was lifted).

Part of the attraction of the beach is you don’t have to wear a mask there.



People sunbathe at La Malvarrosa beach in Valencia July 01,2020. - The European Union reopened its borders to visitors from 15 countries but excluded the United States, where coronavirus deaths are spiking once again, six months after the first cluster was reported in China. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP) (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

France and Spain among quarantine exemptions

Many locals haven’t been put off heading out even as the number of coronavirus cases rise daily.

And some tourists are still heading to this corner of Spain.

British travellers we spoke to actually told us they feel safer here than back in the UK despite the worrying infection numbers.

Vonnie Magowan, from Wokingham, told us she came to Barcelona for a mini-break to see her son because it might be the last window if cases continue to rise here.

Briton Vonnie Magowan says she is in Barcelona to visit her son

The fact pretty much everyone is wearing masks makes a difference. It’s not like that at home she tells me.

Ellie Bates, from Cheltenham, has travelled from Madrid, where she’s currently living. She says she feels totally safe in Barcelona.

People are covering their faces and trying to keep a safe distance in bars and restaurants which can still stay open, albeit with limited numbers.

Las Ramblas in Barcelona is usually packed with tourists

Las Ramblas in Barcelona is usually packed with tourists

But Barcelona is much, much quieter than usual at this time of year.

It’s clear many tourists don’t share Vonnie and Ellie’s confidence. The usually packed Las Ramblas – a mecca for visitors – is today a calm corner for locals to walk.

Many of the stalls and cafes never reopened after the national lockdown was lifted and there is no certainty when they will again.

Ellie

Ellie Bates says she feels safe in Barcelona

The authorities here share the same balancing act as officials in other regions of Spain and across the continent. Trying to boost the economy and tourism whilst keeping people safe.

For now, the request to stay at home is just that – a recommendation. But if cases continue to rise here, who knows?

Could a harsh lockdown restricting movement and impacting business be on the cards again?

One official said last week this is the “last chance” if people don’t act sensibly.

The prospect and worry of that is leading many to make the most of what time they may have left to enjoy themselves.

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