Madrid’s regional government on Friday cancelled all its traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations, including the main event in Puerta del Sol Square when thousands eat a grape at each stroke of midnight.
The announcement came as part of a raft of new measures aimed at ensuring public health and safety over Christmas and New Year to try and avoid a hike in coronavirus infections.
“The Community of Madrid has agreed to suspend all New Year’s Eve celebrations in public squares or streets across the region,” the regional health authority said.
Visitor numbers will also be limited at Christmas markets as well as events when children present their Christmas wish lists to Father Christmas and The Three Kings.
And the glitzy January 5 parades on the eve of Epiphany – or Reyes – when tens of thousands flock to the city centre – will only be allowed in enclosed spaces with all spectators seated.
The traditional grape-eating ritual on New Year’s Eve is one traditionally broadcast live from Puerta del Sol Square by almost all Spanish TV channels and watched across Spain as well as in Latin America.
Spain has largely managed to bring down second-wave infection levels due to curfews and bars and restaurant closures in some areas, but health officials are worried the holiday season will trigger an increase in cases.
On Wednesday, the Spanish government said holiday travel between regions would only be allowed for visiting family while Christmas gatherings would be limited to 10 people.