Mar 14, 2020 - Health

Spain shuts down business, travel to fight coronavirus

In this image, a man and a woman ride on an electric scooter while wearing face masks

A couple in Malaga, Spain on Saturday, March 14. Photo: Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Schools, bars and restaurants were ordered to close in Spain on Saturday, while citizens were told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and health officials announced.

The big picture: Spain is following Italy's lead by shuttering non-essential businesses and implementing domestic travel restrictions, as the two nations grapple with the largest outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in Europe.

Where it stands: COVID-19 cases in Spain have surged from 4,334 to just over 6,300 within the last 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The country has reported nearly 200 deaths.

Details: Health officials "ordered all citizens to confine themselves to their homes — and to leave only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or assist the elderly and others in need," per the New York Times.

What they're saying: “Spain is demonstrating in these critical hours that it has the capacity to overcome adversity,” Sánchez said on Saturday, per the NYT. “We are facing very difficult weeks of efforts and sacrifices. ... Some important rights must be limited if we want to beat the virus.”

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