COVID-19 fact check: Are Benidorm protesters right to say family reunions contribute more infections than nightlife?
BayRadio fact check: Incorrect. But they have important points to make (see below).
More than 1,000 protesters took to Benidorm’s Levante beachfront and marched to the Town Hall to protest against government measures to halt COVID-19 infections – in particular, restrictions on nightlife.
“This protest is a consequence of the continuous nonsense and lack of organisation shown by the Spanish Government during these times of health crisis,” read a statement from the Abreca/ Cobreca Benidorm hospitality associations, who organised the protest, and represent bars, restaurants and the wider tourism industry in Benidorm.
The protest attacked rules to close nightclubs and force bars and restaurants to shut by 1am, with last admissions allowed before 12am midnight.
The associations believe that Benidorm should be exempt from these rules for two main reasons (below).
- Benidorm has recorded 24 cases in the last 14 days, which makes a case load of less than 6 per 100,000 population. (Source.)
- Nightlife contributes to 14% of current COVID-19 cases, whereas contagions among families and during family gatherings contribute 40%. (Source.)
Are they right?
According to data from the Valencian Community’s health department, Sanitat, Benidorm has recorded 73 COVID-19 positives by PCR in the last 14 days. This makes for a case load of 106.23 cases per 100,000 population.
The statement was made a week ago, however cases have increased significantly since. Spain’s Ministry of Health has repeatedly used 50 cases per 100,000 as a marker to restrict tourism and close borders in the event of outbreaks in municipalities or neighbouring countries.
Benidorm is now above that marker. It still remains below Spain’s entire case load of 149.75 cases per 100,000.
According to data from Spain’s state network RTVE (which uses government data), Spain currently 864 active COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.
Of these, 229 were sparked from family gatherings and just 58 from nightlife.
However, the nightclub outbreaks are the most dangerous: the 58 nightlife-related outbreaks have caused 2,700 currently active infections.
The 229 family gatherings have caused 1,600 currently active infections.
Spain does not have an official number of active cases at present: however we can already see that (as of last Friday’s figures) nightlife is contributing more infections than family gatherings.
What do they want?
Abreca/ Cobreca’s president, Fransisco Javier del Castillo, urged the government to:
- Install rapid COVID-19-testing facilities in airports to secure ‘travel corridors’ of international and safe tourism.
- Funds to help hospitality businesses continue to rent their premises.
- Reduce IVA (VAT) for tourism and hospitality businesses.
- Provide incentives for national tourism.
Del Castillo said last week that Benidorm’s tourism sector has lost up to 60% of its usual income this summer – August’s figures predict a loss of 50%.
He said that within three months ‘50% of Benidorm establishments will close’ due to the blow and insufficient government support.
Del Castillo said this was despite ‘strict hygiene protocols’ that succeeded in keeping COVID-19 infections way below other parts of Spain despite the massive tourist numbers in Benidorm.
Hotel association Hosbec also predicted that hotel occupancy in Benidorm this week will be at 53% – way below the upper 90s Benidorm is used to.