Spanish nightclub industry draws up code to allow safe partying

FILE PHOTO: Dancers perform over the crowd during a water party inside Paradis disco in San Antonio in the Spanish Balearic island of Ibiza early June 2, 2012. The island of Ibiza is one the top locations chosen by British citizens to spend their holidays. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Dancing with masks on, sipping drinks with straws and keeping to marked off areas of the dance floor are among post-lockdown safety proposals aimed at helping Spain’s nightclubs reopen their doors in time for the summer season.

Clubs have been shut since the government imposed one of the most stringent coronavirus restrictions in Europe in March, which devastated the tourism sector that accounts for more than 12% of Spanish GDP.

With the lockdown now easing, the National Federation of Leisure and Entertainment Businesses (FNEOE), an industry group, and the Institute for Quality Tourism, a lobby group, have drawn up safety guidelines as they wait for the green light for clubs to open.

The plan recommends masks should be compulsory on the dance floor and clubbers would have to wash their hands as they enter and leave discos. Dance floors would be clearly marked off from other parts of clubs so customers did not mix and drinks would only be served with disposable straws.

The nightlife sector, including “super clubs” on the island of Ibiza such as Pacha, Amnesia, and Eden that are popular with tourists, produces annual revenue of some 20 billion euros (17.7 billion pounds), according to the FNEOE.

Getting it restarted will depend on the approval of the government, which has so far only allowed bars to open outdoor terraces, and with limited capacity. There is no word yet on when nightclubs will be allowed to open.

“These guidelines were drawn up by doctors to try to ensure that people can enjoy an essential part of the Spanish life in a safe way,” said FNEOE spokesman Vicente Pizcueta, adding that he hoped things will return to normal in July.

– Swimmers and sun-bathers turned out in droves on Monday as Spain reopened nearly all its beaches as part of government steps to revive a devastated tourist industry.

Spain also reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time in months on Monday.

Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum meanwhile reopened its doors, the first such institution to do so since the strict lockdown imposed on the country in mid-March began to be eased.

Seeking to entice international visitors back for a planned re-opening in July, the government said it aimed to guarantee health conditions. 

“It’s not a question of being the first in reopening but to reopen knowing we guarantee the health not only of residents but also of visitors,” Industry and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto told Telecinco TV.

Tourism accounts for one in eight jobs in Spain, the world’s second most visited country after France, and contributes more than 12% of Spanish GDP.

But revenues from tourism about halved in the four months to April and no tourists travelled to Spain at all that month because of the lockdown. 

Spain has been one of the world’s worst-hit countries by the pandemic, but the health ministry reported no new deaths on Monday, with the total remaining at Sunday’s 27,127. Still, 35 people have died over the past seven days.

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