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Catalonia reimposes virus rules as Delta strain wreaks global havoc

The Dutch are also reimposing some restrictions today.

A couple wearing face masks kiss by Portal del Angel shopping street in Barcelona
A couple wearing face masks kiss by Portal del Angel shopping street in Barcelona
Image: Jordi Boixareu via PA

CATALONIA IS SET set to reimpose virus restrictions in the face of rising coronavirus infections, as the highly contagious Delta strain forced nations worldwide to put the brakes on a long-awaited return to normalcy.

The highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is sweeping the globe as countries race to inoculate their populations to ward off fresh outbreaks that are increasingly affecting the unvaccinated young.

After an “exponential” rise in cases in recent days, officials in the autonomous region in the northeast of Spain said they had no choice but to reimpose restrictions.

Nightclubs will be closed as of this weekend and a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination will be needed to take part in outdoor activities involving more than 500 people.

“The pandemic has not ended, the new variants are very contagious and we still have significant segments of the population that are not vaccinated,” Patricia Plaja, a spokeswoman for the regional government told a news conference.

Also set to reimpose controls today is the Netherlands, where infections rose sevenfold in one week, a surge officials have blamed on the Delta variant.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte ordered the closure of all nightclubs and the curbing of restaurant hours, with visitors to eateries now required to adhere to a 1.5-metre social distancing rule.

But the new measures did not mean the Netherlands would return to a lockdown or curfew as in previous months, and Rutte promised the Dutch people could still enjoy a “beautiful summer”.

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Struggling to cope

Officials were equally optimistic despite a surge of cases in Thailand, which will impose a 9pm to 4am curfew on Bangkok and nine other provinces on Monday to stem a severe third wave of infections that kicked off in April.

“We apologise for difficulties of people living in areas with maximum restrictions, but this will support disease control efficiently. Thailand will be victorious,” said Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the task force.

Residents will also be barred from gathering in groups of more than five people, while public transport networks will shut down from 9 pm each night. Supermarkets, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and electronics stores within malls can stay open but other shops must close.

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AFP

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