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Resurgent Coronavirus Hobbles Madrid’s Hospitality Sector

Written by corres2

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By Raul Cadenas and Silvio Castellanos

MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid’s hospitality sector says it is struggling due to restrictions on opening hours and capacity aimed at reining in a sharp resurgence in coronavirus infections, which reached a nationwide total of 825,140 on Tuesday.

Data from the Health Ministry showed 11,998 new cases were reported since Monday, when Spain became the first country in Western Europe to exceed 800,000 infections.

Madrid, which has one of Europe’s most severe outbreaks and has been subject to a ban on all non-essential travel since Friday, accounted for 5,187 of the new cases.

El Brillante, a Madrid bar known for its calamari sandwiches, is usually open late into the night, bustling with hungry tourists pouring in from visiting museums and shops in the city centre. But with tourists scarce and local custom diminished, the bar is deserted.

A single customer, 80-year-old Jose Hernandez, sat at a table sipping a glass of wine. “This would usually be almost full,” he said, looking around. “Now it looks like it’s just me.”

Besides the transport restrictions, restaurants and bars across Madrid and nine satellite towns must shut two hours early and reduce capacity by half.

A local business association said that caused losses of about 8 million euros over the weekend.

“If there’s no tourism in Madrid, this area is dead,” El Brillante barman Damian Martinez said.

Since the bar re-opened in late June after the lockdown during the first wave of the virus, Martinez, 55, says earnings are 20% of what they were before the pandemic.

Unemployment in the hospitality sector in the city could reach 60%, Madrid’s Deputy Mayor Begoña Villacís said in an interview with state radio RNE on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Raul Cadenas and Silvio Castellanos; Writing by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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