Clashes in Barcelona over virus restrictions

Madrid (AFP) –


Clashes erupted in central Barcelona Friday between protesters and Catalan police during a demonstration against mobility restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, an AFP correspondent said.

The clashes erupted when hundreds gathered in the city centre to protest at restrictions which include a 10:00 pm curfew and a ban on leaving the city for the long holiday weekend.

A spokesman for the Mossos d'Esquadra regional police told AFP up to 700 protesters attended the rally which later turned violent when a group of some 50 people "began throwing dangerous objects" at police, prompting them to try and break up the crowd.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw protesters hurling objects at the security forces, including crowd control barriers, while police hit back with batons.

Sirens wailed throughout the city centre as police sought to disperse the protesters and firefighters hosed down the streets to put out fires in several large wheelie bins.

Police arrested two people, the spokesman said.

Despite the many restrictions imposed in Spain since July, when the number of cases began rising again, infections have spiralled with the virus claiming more than 35,000 lives and infecting more than 1.1 million people.

Almost all of Spain's regions have imposed border closures in the hope of avoiding a new lockdown, but in Catalonia, where bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October, the authorities have imposed extra restrictions.

Residents have been barred from leaving towns and cities over the weekend with police on Friday checking drivers on the main roads leading out of Barcelona.