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Spain’s restaurants could close early under Left-wing curfew

Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the People's Party: 'Spain has the world's best nightlife with streets full of life and freedom'
Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the People's Party: 'Spain has the world's best nightlife with streets full of life and freedom' - Avalon/David Cruz Sanz

Spain’s Left-wing government has told restaurants to close earlier as it tries to enforce a 35-hour working week.

“It’s madness to carry on extending opening times; that a restaurant is open at 1am is not reasonable,” Yolanda Díaz, the deputy prime minister and labour minister, said.

Prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s government wants to limit working time to 35 hours a week, as already exists in France, in a country celebrated for its vibrant nightlife.

But leaders of the tourism and hospitality sectors were furious at the suggestion that late opening hours meant workers were being exploited.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Madrid region for the conservative People’s Party and a fierce critic of Mr Sánchez’s government, said that “Spain has the world’s best nightlife, with streets full of life and freedom”.

“They want us to be puritans, materialists, socialists, without soul, without light and without restaurants just because they feel like it. Bored and at home,” Ms Díaz Ayuso said on social media.

“Long opening hours generate more employment and more staff,” José Luis Yzuel, president of the industry group Spanish Hospitality, told the newspaper El Mundo.

Lack of labour

He branded Ms Díaz’s comments as “nonsense”, insisted workers closely observed rules on hours, and the biggest problem faced by the industry was a lack of labour.

Some 188,000 inspections were carried out in 2022 to ensure that labour law and health and safety rules were being observed in Spain’s 270,000 establishments, he said.

On Monday, government figures showed that the hospitality sector had created 29,000 jobs in February alone.

It contributed more than any other sector to the 104,000 new jobs created in Spain in what has been the best February for employment since 2007.

Spain’s tourism sector is also booming. In January there was an all-time record of 4.8 million international visitors entering the country. They spent €6.55 billion, a quarter more than in the same month last year.