Spain approves legislation bringing some rent relief to stricken bars and restaurants.

Spain’s government on Tuesday approved new legislation designed to help owners of bars and restaurants shuttered or crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The legislation, which was passed by decree, will force landlords to reduce the rent by as much as half if they own more than 10 properties used by restaurants and bars in downtown areas.

If needed, owners of restaurants and bars will also be granted a moratorium on the payment of their rent until next May, when Spain’s current state of pandemic emergency is set to expire. The government estimated that as many as 19,000 owners could apply for the rent relief, paying any outstanding rent over the following two years.

But for now, Spain is not offering direct financial aid to its hospitality sector, as many restaurant owners had demanded.

The Socialist-led coalition government also agreed to give further protection to residents facing a possible eviction, by making it illegal for landlords to cut off their electricity or water.

Spain Coronavirus Map and Case Count

A detailed map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with charts and tables of the number of cases and deaths.

Spain’s state of emergency was imposed in October as a second wave of infections took hold. Restaurants and bars are operating under strict constraints, and a nightly curfew is in effect, as well as travel restrictions in many regions. There have been at least 1.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in Spain, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health.

As of Tuesday morning, 49,260 people had died, and the seven-day average of new reported infections was 9,624 cases a day.

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