Spain considers limiting Christmas celebrations to six people

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks during a news conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, November 22, 2020. Moncloa Palace/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa/Handout via REUTERS

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday that his government was considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is not a number we have pulled out of nowhere," Sanchez told a news conference with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte in Mallorca.

"It is a number that health professionals, scientists have told us is sufficiently rigorous and restrictive to prevent another surge in infections," he said.

The restrictions will be negotiated with regional authorities, meaning some changes could still be introduced.

Some regional health chiefs, including in Catalonia and Madrid, are advocating for a less stringent limit of 10 people for holiday gatherings.

While the rate of infection in Spain has slowed in the past month, its overall tally of nearly 1.6 million cases is the second highest in western Europe after France.

On Tuesday, the death toll rose by 537 to 43,668, marking the highest daily increase of the pandemic's second wave.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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