About 25,000 Spanish students hold 'macro-botellon' drinking party

MADRID (Reuters) - About 25,000 people took part in the biggest illegal drinking party in Madrid since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, police said on Saturday.

The "macro-botellon," as these outside drinking parties are called, started at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday.

Madrid's Municipal Police said because of the large numbers involved in the party, they were unable to clear the drinkers until 7 a.m. Saturday.

Video of the party showed thousands of revellers not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

"It is the biggest botellon that we have seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," a police spokesman told Reuters.

Madrid's regional government will relax restrictions from Monday so that bars and clubs can stay open until 6 a.m., from the 2 a.m. close currently. People must still wear masks indoors and maintain a distance of 1.5 metres if social distancing is not possible.

However, mass drinking parties are still illegal and punishable with fines for taking part between 500 euros ($586.25) for minors and 600 euros ($703.50) for adults. Organisers face fines of up to 600,000 euros ($703,500.00) if a court judges it is an activity which puts public health at risk.

There were other mass drinking parties in Barcelona and the northern Spanish city of Logroño on Friday night, authorities said.

($1 = 0.8529 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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