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Spain shuts all nightclubs and discos after alarming surge in COVID-19 cases

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A waiter wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus works in a discotheque in Madrid, Spain, early Saturday, July 25, 2020
A waiter wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus works in a discotheque in Madrid, Spain, early Saturday, July 25, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Manu Fernandez   -   Euronews
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Spain announced on Friday the closure of all discos, nightclubs and dance halls amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, with almost 50,000 new infections recorded in the past 14 days.

COVID-19 hospitalisations have quintupled since early July, when cases were reduced to a trickle and the virus seemed to have been almost defeated after three months of strict lockdown.

Nearly 3,000 new cases were recorded on Thursday only - mostly in Madrid - almost double the number on the previous day, with young people getting infected at a higher rate.

The new nationwide measures include a ban on smoking in public areas when it is not possible to keep at least two meters from other people.

Also, in addition to current social-distancing measures, bars and restaurants must close at 1 am, and it is forbidden to gather in public to drink alcohol (a Spanish tradition known as "botellón").

Visits to nursing homes have been limited to one person a day for each resident, and for one hour only.

Spain's Health Minister Salvador Illa said the measures were "unanimously adopted".

At the same time, he stressed that despite an increase in cases, pressure on hospitals isn't as significant as it was during Spain's first COVID-19 peak, in March and April.

Friday's announcements came after the enforcement of local lockdowns in the Catalonia, Aragon, and Basque regions, and a ban on smoking in public areas announced on Wednesday in Galicia.

Spains is Europe's third-worst-hit country, accounting for over 337,000 cases and more than 28,000 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.