Catalan youngsters face hefty fines for 'botellon' drinking parties

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Catalonia on Tuesday banned informal outdoor parties popular with youngsters, saying anyone taking part would be fined up to 15,000 euros ($17,598.00), in the latest step to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The measure was announced a day after Catalan leader Quim Torra said those participating in the tradition of the “botellon,” whereby young people gather at night on the street or in parks to share drinks and party, were being irresponsible.

“For public health reasons, the shared consumption of alcoholic beverages on the streets and in any other open public space is banned in all Catalonia,” government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo told reporters, referring to the “botellones”.

Anyone ignoring the ban would be fined between 3,000 and 15,000 euros, Budo said, with municipalities in charge of monitoring and enforcement.

Catalonia, which is Spain’s second-most populous region is its worst affected by the coronavirus with 75,613 cases, including 10,134 in the last two weeks.

The German government on Tuesday followed France’s lead and advised its citizens not to travel to tourism-dependent Catalonia, which said it regretted the decision.

The Catalan government on Friday ordered the closure of all nightclubs, while bars and restaurants were told to shut at midnight in dozens of municipalities, including Barcelona. It had earlier recommended that some four million people stay home and avoid all non-essential trips.

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