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Spain bans all tourists as lockdown is extended

Temporary hospital: Row upon row of beds in a conference centre in Madrid PICTURE: AFP

SPAIN last night closed its borders to tourists for the next 30 days after the death toll jumped nearly 400 to 1,720.

The country has been in lockdown since March 14, with people allowed to venture out only on essential trips.

The curfew was due to expire on Friday but prime minister Pedro Sanchez said yesterday he would ask the Spanish parliament to extend it to April 11.

Meanwhile, Germany and Switzerland have offered to take patients from France where the death toll had last night reached 562. The entire country is in lockdown, with residents having to fill in forms to leave their homes.

The eastern province of Alsace has been particularly hard-hit, with doctors in the cities of Mulhouse and Colmar warning that their healthcare system was at breaking point.

The first patients were transferred over the weekend. ‘We are sending a sign of solidarity to our French neighbours,’ the German science minister, Theresia Bauer, said.

Germany has recorded 92 deaths and last night banned non-workplace meetings of more than two people for the next two weeks.

The move came as Downing Street denied claims that the shutdown of pubs and restaurants was forced by French threats to close the border.

President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Boris Johnson by phone on Friday morning, just hours before the prime minister announced the lockout.

‘We had to clearly threaten him to make him finally budge,’ a presidential source told the Libération newspaper.

But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: ‘As the prime minister said, these new measures were taken based on scientific advice and in keeping with the government’s action plan.’