Spanish police stepped up their operation to force people to stay indoors today, with officers driving up and down beaches with megaphones, warning of prison time and massive £25,000 fines for those breaking the lockdown – after the country’s deaths from the coronavirus doubled to 288 overnight.
Footage shared on Twitter captures officers as they tell residents and tourists to ‘stay safely at your accommodation or home and follow instructions from local authorities’.
It comes as British holidaymakers scramble to escape the country after it was placed on lockdown this weekend – with Spanish deaths from the coronavirus more than doubling in 24 hours, health authorities have announced.
Total infections in Spain have approached 8,000 and the Health Ministry said the nation has recorded 288 deaths since the start of the pandemic, up from 136 on Saturday.
The jump comes a day after Spain’s government declared a state of emergency and took extraordinary measures to limit movement to commuting to work and necessary errands. It has also closed restaurants, bars, most retail shops and reduced public transport.
Crowds of tourists were captured queuing at a Barcelona bus station for services towards the airport today, as the 15-day state of emergency continued.
Spanish police stepped up their operation to force people to stay indoors, with officers driving up and down beaches on the Costas with megaphones, warning of prison time and massive £25,000 fines for those breaking the lockdown (pictured)
Tourists gather at a bus station for services towards the airport on March 15, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Total infections in Spain have approached 8,000 and the Health Ministry said the nation has recorded 288 deaths since the start of the pandemic, up from 136 on Saturday
Meanwhile, police helicopters and drones were also used to encourage locals and tourists to stay in their homes and hotels to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Spaniards may leave home to go to work, ‘buy bread’, go to the pharmacy and get medical care but ‘not to go have dinner at a friend’s house’, said the Prime Minister, whose wife has now tested positive for the virus.
In Barcelona, people who ventured out on quiet streets to buy bread at one bakery formed long lines with a meter in between each person as recommended by authorities to reduce the risk of contagion. Police patrolled parks and told people who weren’t taking their dog on a quick walk to go home.
A plane on its way from the UK to Spain was even forced to turn back mid-air as chaos took hold on the continent.
Ryanair said it has been ‘forced to severely reduce’ flights to and from Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands from midnight on Sunday to midnight on Thursday in response to the decision of the Spanish government to lock down the country.
On Saturday, airline Jet2 cancelled all flights to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands and TUI customers were informed that holidays booked to the country between yesterday and tomorrow have been cancelled.
British tourists are scrambling to escape Spain and France after the countries were placed on lockdown this weekend (pictured in Barcelona)
Tourists wearing face masks wait for the airport bus in Barcelona on March 15, 2020. France and Spain are the latest European nations to severely curtail people’s movements
A police officer wears a protective face mask as he tells tourists to leave the neighbourhood of Barceloneta, amidst concerns over Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona
Police officers tell a family to leave the Barceloneta beach area amidst concerns over Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona, today
Jet2 has also stopped all flights to Lyon, Grenoble, Paris and Nice due to travel restrictions implemented by the French government. However, they pledged to continue with some scheduled flights to allow customers to fly back to the UK.
This includes its programme of flights on Saturday 21 March to the UK from Lyon and Grenoble, and its flights to Britain from Paris on Sunday 15 and 16 March, as well as ones from Nice on Monday.
The cancellations prompted fears that British holidaymakers will not be able to leave the countries as they are locked down.
Maureen Green, 57, from Lancashire, who owns a holiday home in Torrevieja, on the Costa Blanca, told the Telegraph that she fears she won’t be able to get back to the UK to see her 84-year-old mother.
She said: ‘I believe the army are now joining forces with the police to make sure people stay indoors except for absolutely necessary visits to the supermarket, work or for medical care. My biggest nightmare at this time is that the airports will close and I’ll be trapped here.’
Sarah Cowie, 20, from Aberdeenshire, an Erasmus student who has been living in Granada since September, told the publication that available flights had been filling up extremely quickly. She said: ‘All the flights are getting booked up … and there are so many students trying to leave.’
The first UK death from coronavirus was announced on March 5, and Saturday’s announcement of 10 deaths is by far the largest number of deaths announced on a single day in the UK since the outbreak took hold
Many Erasmus students on their years abroad are looking for the first available flights back to the UK to return to their families, while tourists have been left in the lurch. The returning flights have been booking up quickly as Brits look to escape before the shutdown kicks in.
The Foreign Office has advised against non-essential travel to Spain and said anyone planning to travel to Spain should consult their airline or tour operator.
Earlier, police in Benidorm had run-ins with Brits as they tried to disperse large groups who had spent much of the day drinking take-away alcohol on the streets.
Spain’s government also revealed last week that the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has tested positive for coronavirus.
Countries across Europe were placed into lockdown yesterday in a desperate attempt to stem the soaring tally of cases after the Continent became the new ‘epicentre’ of the global pandemic.
France last night took the decision to close all non-essential public locations. Restaurants, shops, cinemas and cafes have shut for the foreseeable future as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe branded the virus the ‘biggest health crisis in a century’.
Meanwhile, Poland shut down all its airports – forcing thousands of stranded British tourists to head out of the country by car.
Borders were also closed to foreign visitors in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine.
British holidaymakers and students in Spain are desperately trying to return home before the country’s announces the most severe coronavirus measures in Europe. Pictured: People wearing hazmat suits in downtown Madrid
Many of the British community in Spain are students who are looking for last-minute flights to return home to their families
A Spanish police officer had to tell an eager beach goer to pick up his towel and go after the country shut down beaches in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus
The wife of the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Begona Gomez has tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation
Police in Benidorm had run-ins with Brits as they tried to disperse large groups who had spent much of the day drinking take-away alcohol on the streets
Reinforcement arrived as two local police officers struggled to get them to vacate the area. One could be seen using force to push several people away as a colleague dealt with others who appeared to be resisting attempts to move them on. Police sirens sounded in the background
A couple of hours later police had to deal with another large group of Brits who were drinking out of one-litre lager bottles and cans near the same spot outside the Trebol Apartments in Benidorm’s Levante Beach area
In Spain, police patrolled popular beach resorts such as Benidorm and the Costa del Sol urging people to stay inside. There were 3,000 new diagnoses in the capital, Madrid, and health authorities stopped testing those with only mild symptoms in the city.
WIFE OF SPAIN’S PRIME MINISTER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Spain’s government says that the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has tested positive for coronavirus.
The government said Begona Gomez and the prime minister are in good health.
Two ministers from Mr Sanchez’s Cabinet, the minister of equality and the minister of regional affairs, had already tested positive earlier this week.
The others member of the Cabinet have tested negative.
The state of emergency means millions of Spanish people – and 300,000 British expats – will be allowed to venture outside only to commute to work, buy food and medicine, or to go to hospital.
Eva Marie, from Leicester, who is studying in Madrid, said she was ‘spending the day watching Netflix in my apartment, following the news and packing my case in hopes my flight to the UK tomorrow will still go ahead’.
Police in Benidorm had run-ins with British holidaymakers who had spent much of the day drinking on the streets after bars and clubs were shut.
Officers armed with batons had to break up one group at around 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
Reinforcement arrived as two local police officers struggled to get them to vacate the area. One could be seen using force to push several people away as a colleague dealt with others who appeared to be resisting attempts to move them on. Police sirens sounded in the background.
A couple of hours later police had to deal with another large group of Brits who were drinking out of one-litre lager bottles and cans near the same spot outside the Trebol Apartments in Benidorm’s Levante Beach area.
One Brit could be overheard telling a police officer: ‘We’re not causing any trouble, we’re just walking away.’
This is the second European nation to put extreme measures in place after Italy – the worst affected country outside China – was quarantined this week.
Spain will be put under a nation-wide lockdown as part of desperate measures to tackle the outbreak of deadly coronavirus as cases soar by a third overnight to 5,753. Pictured: Restaurant terraces remain closed at the usually-busy Plaza Mayor
Queues of trolleys wait to be allowed into a supermarket in Irun near San Sebastian after the Spanish government declared a state of emergency yesterday
Tourists gather at a bus station – with services towards the airport – as panic about the outbreak of deadly coronavirus intensifies
Under emergency measures, beaches are being closed along the two most famous strips of coastline – the Costa Blanca which covers resorts like Benidorm and the Costa del Sol
Worried residents queued up outside a supermarket in Irun near San Sebastian, Spain, after the Spanish government declared a state of emergency
Winding queues stretched along the outside of a supermarket in Spain after the Spanish government declared a state of emergency in the country
A street artist sits in Plaza Mayor in central Madrid. The popular location is usually over-crowded with tourists but there are barely any now
A food delivery driver cycles along nearly-deserted streets in Milan, Italy, after the Italian government announced measures to slow the spread of deadly coronavirus
People queue up outside a supermarket at the Porta Nuova business center in Milan, Italy, after the government announced drastic measures to slow the spread of coronavirus
MailOnline is awaiting clarification from the Foreign Office on what the new measures will mean for British nationals already in the country, although it is unlikely Britons will be prevented from leaving, as was the case when Italy was quarantined last week.
Spain’s borders remain open for the time being, although this could change as the new restrictive measures come into effect on Monday. The FCO has advised against all but essential travel to affected regions in Spain. Meanwhile British airline Jet2 made the decision to cancel all of its flights to Spain and apparently turned back flights in midair.
The company said it decided to cancel the flights as Spanish authorities moved to introduce tighter restrictions. ‘We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays which is why we have taken this decision.’
Air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said at least seven Jet2 flights with a destination in Spain turned around and came back to the U.K on Saturday. TUI has also suspended all holidaus to the country.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is said to be preparing to shut down the country’s airspace as part of far-reaching power granted by the State of Alarm issued, according to local media reports.
The exceptional measures enable the government to restrict peoples’ movement and could give them the power to limit flights into and out of the country.
It comes as tourists in the Spanish Costas were warned not to ‘act as if you’re on holiday’ as the country remains gripped by the deadly bug.
Several planes flying from the UK to Spain turned around mid-flight and are heading back to Britain one day after the Spanish government announced a 15-day state of emergency
People queue at the entrance to a supermarket – under the supervision of local police – in Vilanova del Cami, Catalonia, Spain, after a state of emergency was announced
A red flag warning tourists away from beaches in Fuengirola waves as the sand in the popular holiday destination looks eerily deserted
Panicked shoppers in Barcelona frantically stocked up on supplies after the government declared the entire country was under a state of emergency
Usually-packed areas in Fuengirola were left eerily quiet after the announcement on Friday. A man can be seen walking along the pavement in a protective face mask
Politicians in some of Spain’s top resorts are demanding new arrivals show responsibility to slow the spread of coronavirus. Beaches are being closed along the Costa Blanca which covers resorts such as Benidorm and the Costa del Sol.
Local police drove around the Costa Blanca resort of Torrevieja on Friday asking people who had arrived from elsewhere to ‘stay indoors.’
Town hall officials in nearby Pilar de la Horadada – home to thousands of British expats and a popular holiday destination 40 miles south of Alicante – said: ‘If you have come to Pilar de la Horadada to enjoy its beaches, magnificent food and fabulous open spaces, we ask you to stay inside until the coronavirus crisis has passed.’
A Jet2 spokesperson said: ‘In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to cancel all flights to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.
‘We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision.
‘We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.
‘This is a fast-moving and complex situation and we are reviewing our programme as a matter of urgency, so that we can fly customers back to the UK.
‘The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we would like to thank our customers for their understanding.’
Tourists in Fuengirola woke up to find the red flag had been hoisted over the resort’s main beach. The council said in a statement: ‘Due to the imminent announcement of the State of Alarm, Fuengirola Town Hall has decided to close its beaches to the public from today.
‘We ask people to respect this restriction, which will be signalled with a red flag along the city’s coastline. Sorry for any inconvenience.’
The State of Alarm enables police to restrict peoples’ movement nationwide and could lead to the closure of ports, airports and the train network.
The streets of Madrid were left eerily deserted on Friday as the government declared a state of emergency to battle the outbreak of deadly coronavirus
Tourists in the Spanish Costas have been warned not to ‘act as if you’re on holiday’ as the country remains gripped by a coronavirus health crisis which has seen bars and restaurants made to close (pictured in Barcelona, Spain)
Normally-bustling streets in Pamplona remained deserted as bars, restaurants and clubs were made to shut at midnight last night
Coronavirus has infected more than 5,000 people and caused 120 deaths in Spain alone. Pictured: Revellers have one last drink before the bar closed at midnight last night
Politicians in some of Spain’s top resorts have demanded that new arrivals show responsibility to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Pictured: A bar tender puts up a sign informing customers that the bar is closed
Top politicians in Spain’s southern Andalucia region have already warned they are working on plans to stop people travelling and make them stay indoors unless they need to leave for work or to buy food or medicine. Pictured: A woman wears a mask in a market in Pamplona, northern Spain
Britons laugh off coronavirus crisis in Benidorm by guzzling alcohol on the beach after bars shut
Britons in Benidorm laughed off government-imposed bar curfew in Spain by guzzling down beer by the beach and stocking up trolleys with alcohol last night.
One smiling tourist risked the wrath of expats and locals by holding up a pack of Corona lager as his shirtless pals downed drinks beside him.
Their show of defiance followed pleas by Spanish politicians to stay indoors yesterday ahead of a national ban due to come into force allowing people to leave their homes or hotels only under certain ’emergency’ conditions.
Britons in Benidorm laughed off government-imposed bar curfew in Spain by guzzling down beer by the beach and stocking up trolleys with alcohol last night
Police in Benidorm have yet to make any official announcement on how they will deal with British tourists who insist on continuing to make supermarket booze runs and filling up trolleys with alcohol only.
But they are expected to try and put a stop to the practice on the basis the products are not essential items under the terms of the State of Alarm Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez said yesterday he would bring into force.
Karen Maling Cowles, president of the Benidorm British Business Association, said she was ‘saddened’ and ‘sickened’ by the scenes.
Police in Benidorm have yet to make any official announcement on how they will deal with British tourists who insist on continuing to make supermarket booze runs and filling up trolleys with alcohol only
The expat, who had decided to self-isolate ahead of the government home confinement order and posted photos of exhausted frontline Spanish nurses on social media, said: ‘We are in a crisis and people need to take this seriously.
‘Sadly it’s those who aren’t taking this seriously who will prolong this problem.
‘While everybody’s out they could be infecting each other.
‘It’s the minority of people who are in holiday mode who are forgetting what’s around on around them and it’s really sad.
‘I just can’t understand why they are acting the way they are.
‘They have to realise this can’t be a holiday for them because this is a health emergency.’
The scenes of British holidaymakers packing the seafront in Benidorm, despite red flags banning bathing, led to calls from angry expats and locals for them to be sent back home on the first planes available.
One said: ‘I hope that all the British who are currently partying in Benidorm don’t get any type of health assistance when they fall ill in our country.’
British holidaymakers descended on the seafront in Benidorm, despite red flags banning bathing
Another added: ‘I hope the first measure implemented as part of the State of Alarm is the immediate expulsion of these Brits.’
Miriam Gonzalez tweeted: ‘Tell the Brits in Benidorm the Spanish are staying indoors.
‘They are being irresponsible by carrying on as if nothing was happening, they give British people a bad name.’
Benidorm-based doctor Maria Diaz Gomez posted footage of tourists downing lager in packed bars in the resort’s Little England area ahead of last night’s (FRI) midnight lockdown banning them from opening for two weeks.
She said: ‘We are on call in Benidorm. Live. Thousand of foreigners ignoring measures to contain the pandemic. How slowly the clock advances towards midnight.’
She added: ‘In a society of ‘Me’ and ‘Now’, it’s all we can expect.’
Benidorm tourism portal Turismo de Benidorm said in a tweet alongside a Union Jack flag: ‘At these hard times the VisitBenidorm team stands by your side.
‘Stay calm, stay home, stay safe and let our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter entertain you. We love you all dearly.’
The refusal of many people to heed officials’ recommendations to stay at home and stop the spread of coronavirus, sparked the anger of many full-time Costa residents.
Much of it was directed at people from Madrid and the Basque Country who have second homes in areas like the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol and decamped to the coast to escape the coronavirus crisis which hit worse there earlier.
Former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar and his wife Ana Botella, who have left the Spanish capital for their mansion near Marbella, have come in for criticism on social media.
One angry Spaniard branded them ‘bad citizens’ and ‘toxic.’
And ANC England, a UK-based pro Catalan-independence movement, used the coronavirus to make its own political attack by claiming: ‘Spain is a failed state which has allowed mass spreading of coronavirus with thousands leaving Madrid including former PM Aznar quitting to his Marbella mansion, triggering confinements and barricades across Spain.
But British holidaymakers also came in for criticism over the way they have reacted to the crisis.
Benidorm-based doctor Maria Diaz Gomez posted footage of tourists downing lager in packed bars in the resort’s Little England area ahead of last night’s midnight lockdown banning them from opening for two weeks.
She said: ‘We are on call in Benidorm. Live. Thousand of foreigners ignoring measures to contain the pandemic. How slowly the clock advances towards midnight.’
She added: ‘In a society of ‘Me’ and ‘Now’, it’s all we can expect.’
Another angry Spaniard, raging against the Brits packing out Gerona Street in the heart of the Little England area, added: ‘Benidorm. Ground zero. Gerona Street. Full of d***heads.’
But another replied: ‘There are thousands of foreigners because many Spaniards opened their bars.
‘I’m all for responsibility, but from everyone.’
There were no immediate reports of any violent incidents or arrests last night linked to the forced closure of bars in places like Benidorm, or in resorts in Majorca and Ibiza.
There, nightclubs were told to shut and the larger bars and restaurants ordered to limit the number of people they let in.
Police were out in force in the Little England area to ensure nightspots obeyed the lockdown order.
Bolton-born expat Lyndsey Leech said: ‘Everyone’s complaining about the English who wanted to stay outside and drink, but they forget that it’s the fault of people from Madrid that we’re all indoors now.’
Peter Wharton, who is due to fly to Benidorm later today, said: ‘We are due to fly with Jet2 to Benidorm this afternoon.
‘The resort is in lockdown, bars are closed and our hotel advise against travel.
‘Yet Jet2 continue to fly people because the Foreign Office have not advised against travel.’
And John Williams raged at Ryanair: ‘Benidorm have closed all bars and restaurants, yet you have not cancelled your flights to Alicante.
‘The Spanish see fit to shut the place because of the risk yet you’re quite happy to take our money and continue to fly there.
‘Do the right thing.’
The Balearic Islands president Francina Armengol has asked Pedro Sanchez to restrict as much as possible the numbers of flights to and from the holiday destination.
Spanish authorities yesterday implemented a curfew across Catalonia.
Mr Sanchez’s leftwing government took few steps at first to impose tough measures and changed tack only this week as numbers soared.
The opposition has criticised the government for letting events like International Women’s Day marches go ahead a week ago.
Pablo Casado, the leader of the conservative opposition People’s Party said on Friday said: ‘In the past few weeks, serious negligence has been committed by the government, such as encouraging a massive demonstration with hundreds of thousands of people last Sunday.’
National and regional authorities have said they reacted appropriately, taking stronger measures when the number of cases started soaring on Monday.
With schools now shut across the country and a first package of economic measures announced on Thursday, the government met – via videoconference – on Saturday to prepare a new package of economic and social measures.
In an increasingly deserted capital city, where all shops except supermarkets and pharmacies shut down, posters put up by the city authorities read: ‘The best option to prevent the propagation of the virus is to stay at home.’
On public radio, official messages told people to wash their hands, use disposable tissues and avoid all but essential travel.
Spanish authorities have implemented a curfew across Catalonia as Spain declares a state of emergency due to coronavirus
No one is able to enter or leave Catalonia – the region of 7.5million inhabitants – including Barcelona, where 509 people have been infected
British holidaymakers watching Cheltenham races poolside after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a ‘state of emergency’
Pictured: Tourists lunching in Benidorm, just before Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a ‘State of Emergency’
Pictured: Tourists wander through the streets of Benidorm just moments before the Spanish government announced a ‘state of emergency’
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announces the state of emergency for 15 days due to the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid, Spain
A man wearing a face mask as a precaution against coronavirus passes by Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain
A couple, wearing protective face masks, walk through an unusually empty Plaza Mayor square due to the coronavirus outbreak in central Madrid, Spain
Tito’s in Mallorca, one of the most visited clubs on the island, announced its temporary closure as the outbreak of coronavirus in Spain intensified
Red Cross members demonstrate hygiene measures in Madrid where Britons have now been advised to avoid travelling unless necessary because of coronavirus
Groom Rafael (centre, right) and bride Miki (left), both protected with face masks, leave a civil registry after getting married in Madrid, Spain
A worker shuts the doors of the stunning medieval cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, after drastic measures were introduced to slow the spread of the killer bug
Pilgrims wearing face masks lift up their backpacks after finishing their pilgrimage on the Way of St James at the Praza do Obradoiro square in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain. The stunning medieval cathedral of Santiago has been closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
An elderly woman wears a protective face mask as she carries a bag with food products, amidst concerns over Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona
People wearing face masks as a precaution against coronavirus were seen at Plaza Mayor Square in Madrid, Spain, which remained quieter than usual
Tourists are seen as the closure of the Alhambra was announced due to coronavirus in Granada, Spain, on Friday
Catalan police officers stop a car trying to get into Igualada, one of four towns closed down by regional authorities, at a checkpoint near Barcelona on Friday