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World News

Catalonia eases COVID restrictions but keeps curfew, including for Christmas

A terrace of a bar is seen with padlocks on its chairs at Rambla de Catalunya street, after Catalonia's government said restaurants, bars and shopping malls will remain closed for at least another ten days to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic, in Barcelona, Spain, November 12, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/Files

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain’s Catalonia region will allow bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas to reopen from Monday, gradually easing some of the restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, although a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. remains.

Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed from Dec. 21, enabling larger groups to celebrate Christmas and New Year together, the regional government said. At present only gatherings of up to six are allowed.

The curfew may also be eased somewhat during the Christmas holiday period.

Catalonia is the worst-hit Spanish region after Madrid, with close to 300,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 7,400 deaths, accounting for one fifth of the national COVID-19 death toll.

“We are on the right path but there’s still a long way ahead,” acting regional leader Pere Aragones told a news conference.

Catalonia - home to Barcelona - has imposed some of Spain’s harshest COVID-19 restrictions. It was the first region to fully close bars and restaurants mid-October, much to the dismay of business owners.

Bars and restaurants will be able to open their outdoor seating but with 2-metre spacing between tables and no more than four people seated together, unless they are from the same family. Indoors they will only be allowed to run at 30% capacity. They will have to close at 9.30 p.m.

Theatres, cinemas and musical halls will be allowed a 50% occupancy, the same for outdoor sports facilities, while for indoor gyms it will be capped at 30%.

Those restrictions will be gradually eased or tightened as the health situation evolves.

Reporting by Joan Faus; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Alexandra Hudson

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