Madrid relaxes nightlife restrictions with industry cooperation
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

The party is back on in Spain's capital as nightlife COVID-19 restrictions are loosened. 

For years Madrid has been the very definition of a 24-hour city. Going out until the early hours on any night of the week was a way of life.

That all came to a shuddering halt in 2020 thanks to the pandemic and the resulting lockdown.

Back to normality for nightclubs

After the better part of 18 months, Madrid's restaurants, bars, and nightclubs have finally been allowed to return to their normal opening hours.

Restaurants can stay open until 2 am, while nightclubs and bars don't have to close before 6 in the morning. Hotels, cinemas, and theatres in the capital have also seen restrictions on their opening hours and capacity lifted.

It's part of a general easing of restrictions across Spain as the country's infection rate falls.

Restrictions on social life have been relaxed across Spain./Jon Nazca/Reuters

Restrictions on social life have been relaxed across Spain./Jon Nazca/Reuters

Madrid's clubbers were upbeat, but wary of losing nightlife again if infection numbers rise. 

"I think it's great as people won't have to gather in the streets anymore. Also, the clubs have COVID-19 protocols with limited capacity and social distancing," one man told CGTN Europe. 

"If infection rates start to rise again, I'm pretty sure they will bring the restrictions back, such as stricter capacity limits, for example," added another man.


Safety concerns

Critics said nightclubs will always be a perfect breeding ground for COVID-19, with enclosed spaces and poor ventilation.

However, authorities argue a regulated nightlife sector will help reduce the number of uncontrolled illegal street parties known as Botellones, thought to be a major factor in last summer's spike in coronavirus cases.

Club owners insist the safety of their patrons is paramount.

Juan Jose Blardony, director of Madrid Hostelry, the local hospitality industry body in the Spanish capital told CGTN Europe its members worked with authorities to ensure the public remains safe. 

"We worked very closely with the Madrid Regional Government and the Health Authorities to improve safety measures through a program called 'Responsible Hostelry.' 

"We focused on measures to improve ventilation at all venues. We will keep working on it. It's really important that the client feels safe, so they can enjoy themselves safely," he said. 

The increase of public gatherings will always carry an element of risk when it comes to infection, but with more than 75 percent of Spain's population now fully vaccinated people are more confident about taking another step on the road back to normality.

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