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“This is madness”. Spain’s labour minister proposes closing bars and restaurants earlier

"This is madness". Spain’s labour minister proposes closing bars and restaurants earlier

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
07.03.2024 16:15

Spain's labour minister faced criticism for proposing shorter opening hours for bars and restaurants. Nightlife comes at a price for catering staff.

On 4 March, Yolanda Diaz, the Spanish Labour Minister, sparked a nationwide discussion about Spain's lively nightlife. The debate centred around the long working hours required to sustain the country's nightlife culture, especially in restaurants. Diaz noted that Spain's nightlife standards differ from those of the rest of Europe.

Labour minister calls restaurants open at night as "madness"

"A country that has its restaurants open at one o’clock in the morning is not reasonable," she said. "It is madness to continue extending opening hours until who knows what time," Díaz stated. These words sparked criticism from the opposition politicians and the restaurant industry.

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Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the People's Party of the Community of Madrid and a fierce critic of the central government, accused the ruling left on social media of wanting people to sit bored at home.

"Spain has the best nightlife in the world, with streets full of life and freedom. And that also provides employment," added Ayuso, whose political career was partly driven by her insistence on keeping Madrid's bars and restaurants open during the COVID-19 pandemic. "They want us to be puritans, materialists, socialists, without soul, without light and without restaurants because they feel like it," she added.

Is the Spanish lifestyle under threat?

Spain by Night, a federation representing leisure and entertainment groups, argued that the country's nightlife attracts tourists. "We reject any proposal that questions the Spanish lifestyle, which distinguishes and differentiates us in the tourism market," reads the organisation's statement.

At the heart of the dispute is a long-running debate about the gruelling Spanish workday, which can last up to 11 hours. Many people in the country eat dinner when others in Europe go to bed, The Guardian reports.

Labour minister counters criticism

Refuting the criticism on TVE television, Díaz said that her sole aim was to protect workers' rights. She stressed that her Sumar party is "very much in favour" of leisure. " So much so that we want to reduce the working day … we want people to enjoy life," explained the minister.

Díaz also added that the "nightlife that the regional president of Madrid boasts about" comes at a price. "Shifts after 10 pm are night shifts and, as such, carry certain risks such as mental health risks," she explained. Numerous scientific studies have linked shift work to an increased risk of mental disorders.

Source: theguardian.com

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