Spain's government proposes early bar and restaurant closures, sparking outrage from proprietors and furious tourists

5 March 2024, 18:05 | Updated: 5 March 2024, 18:10

Proposal to close Spain's bars and restaurants earlier causes outrage among proprietors and furious tourists
Proposal to close Spain's bars and restaurants earlier causes outrage among proprietors and furious tourists. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

New drinking rules that could see Spain's bars and restaurants shut early have been proposed by the country's politicians - sparking fierce backlash from locals.

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The contentious rule change proposal has also enraged British tourists who frequently flock to the Iberian coast to catch winter rays.

Yolanda Díaz, the Minister of Employment and Social Economy, suggested the new rules intend to "structure" Spanish society as some establishment opening times are "not reasonable".

The proposed changes would see Spain fall in line with the majority of other European closing times which restrict when establishments can open and close.

She told Spain's Congress on Monday: "A country that has its restaurants open at one in the morning is not reasonable.

"It is crazy to try to continue extending hours until I don't know what time."

Traditional Spanish bar in Barri Gotic, Barcelona
Traditional Spanish bar in Barri Gotic, Barcelona. Picture: Alamy

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Díaz said her department would work with a group of 60 people to work out a rational time as she highlighted the disparity in operating times with the rest of Europe.

The left-wing Movimiento Sumar party, which Díaz leads, are also set to introduce new precautions for tourism and hospitality workers to limit the hours they can work.

Both establishment operators and politicians have slated the proposal who believe restricted hours are not necessary and their regulars are used to their opening hours.

A spokesperson for the Hospitality of Spain group said the proposal was detrimental to an established Spanish institution.

"The Minister of Labor wants to turn us into a sad and gray country in Eastern Europe where everything is closed,' José Luis Yzuel said.

"Why do we have to be as bland as the Europeans when we are their envy in hospitality?"

Another hospitality organisation spokesperson from Community of Madrid said: "Spain has the best nightlife in the world, with streets full of life and freedom. And that also provides jobs.

"They want us puritans, materialists, socialists, without soul, without light and without restaurants because they feel like it. Bored and at home."

Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Eivissa
Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Eivissa. Picture: Alamy

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Announcing her proposal, Díaz said: "We need to open a major social debate. It is unreasonable for meetings to be called at 8pm in the evening."

She continued: "We have to change social hours... we are in restaurants for hours not thinkable in any European country'.

Spains bars and restaurants frequently stay open until past 1am, despite regions varying across the country.

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