Catalonia on Wednesday ordered bars and restaurants to close for 15 days from Thursday night. The number of customers in shops will also be limited.

The move will cause considerable economic hardship for the hospitality sector. The tourist hotspot of Barcelona is the region’s main city. An association of restaurant owners said it would contest the move in court, although the sum of 40 million euros has been offered in emergency aid.

Acting regional chief Pere Aragones said: We need to act today to avoid a total lockdown in the coming weeks … The situation is very worrying.”

Madrid and its region was put under similar measures last week.

PHOTO: A woman walks past a deserted bar in Barcelona Reuters