Coronavirus: Spain closes beaches and bans swimming in bid to stop outbreak

Spain is starting to close many of its beaches and banning tourists from swimming in another bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Red flags are being hoisted at popular resorts along the Costa del Sol in a bid to prevent crowds of people along the coastline.

It comes as the Spanish Government declared a state of emergency on Friday, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying: "Sacrifices have to be made."

Vélez Málaga, which attracts thousands of tourists, was the first town to start closing its beaches, closely by Torrox and Nerja which have closed nine kilometres of beaches.

The Mayor of Nerja, José Alberto Armijo, has ordered the closure of the parks and gardens of the town, as well as prohibiting the use of the beaches.

He has called in the police to make sure the orders are adhered to.

Mr Armijo said in a statement: "This decision stems from what was agreed at the extraordinary meeting by the Governing Council of the Junta de Andalucía, to recommend the closing of all shops, leisure centres and catering establishments, as well as the parks, gardens and beaches of the community."

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Officials are concerned that children will flout the rules now schools have been closed, so parents have been urged not to let them play on the beaches and keep them inside if necessary.

The beach closure orders are being carried out following the recommendations of health officials and due to the "risk to the health of people".

There has been a surge of coronavirus across Malaga in the last few days and two deaths.

Emergency measures include school closures, the daily disinfecting of public transport, suspension of large events attracting more than 1,000 people.

The Junta de Andalucía recommends that citizens stay in their homes and has closed all commercial and leisure establishments.

Beaches are also being closed along the Costa Blanca which includes Benidorm and other resorts are expected to follow as Spain steps up its controls.

Spain is the second country in Europe – after Italy – for number of coronavirus cases, with over 5,700 infections and 120 deaths confirmed so far.

The Spanish Prime Minister said the country could hit 10,000 cases as early as next week and said the Government would undertake all necessary measures to protect its citizens.

In Madrid, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops were ordered to close during a lockdown that began today.

The only shops allowed to remain open are supermarkets and pharmacies – which is also what has been ordered in Italy.

On Friday the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the "epicentre" of the pandemic.

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