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Spain's regions tighten Covid-19 measures as one million case milestone looms

By Nathan Allen

Several Spanish regions toughened their coronavirus restrictions on Monday, seeking to curb a second wave of infection that looks set to drive the country with Western Europe's highest case load above one million cases this week.

Authorities in the northern region of Castilla y Leon announced they would seal off the city of Burgos and the nearby town of Aranda de Duero to all but essential travel from Tuesday night after the infection rate there surpassed 500 cases per 100,000 people.

"We are in circumstances similar to those of March or April," Burgos Mayor Daniel de la Rosa told state broadcaster TVE. The region imposed similar restrictions on the cities of Salamanca, Leon and Palencia last week.

Aragon, which was at the centre of several outbreaks linked to migrant agricultural workers in the summer, introduced capacity limits at bars and restaurants and banned the sale of alcohol in shops between 10 pm and 8 am.

Regional health chief Sira Repolles said she was "very close" to imposing restrictions on movement in the regional capital Zaragoza.

And Catalonia, which last week ordered a 15-day shutdown of bars and restaurants, told 24-hour businesses they must shut at 10 p.m. and cannot reopen until 7 a.m.

Spain's decentralised political system leaves the handling of the pandemic largely up to the regions, although the central government can intervene, as it did on Oct. 9 by declaring a state of emergency in Madrid to reimpose a partial lockdown on several million people in and around the capital.

Despite the increasingly severe clampdown, more than 15,000 cases were detected nationwide on Friday, bringing the total to 936,560. France also has nearly 900,000 cases and could surpass 1 million this week.

(Reuters)