By Joan Faus
MADRID (Reuters) - Fans will be allowed in August to attend sports events in Spain, with a 40% maximum occupancy rate in open-air stadiums and 30% in indoor facilities, Spain's health minister said on Wednesday in a relief to clubs keen to recover a key source of income.
The cap will be effective between Aug. 13, when the soccer league's season starts, and the end of August, when the central and regional governments will discuss again the issue, meaning the occupancy rate could vary, health minister Carolina Darias told reporters after holding talks with the country's regions.
Fans will need to keep a distance of 1.5 meters (4.92 ft)between them and wear a face mask, they will be allowed to drink water but not to eat or smoke, while entering and leaving the facilities will have to be gradual, Darias said, adding that indoor facilities will need to be well ventilated.
Clubs will need to prioritize season-holder members to attend the events, which will also be opened to local fans as the government wants to avoid fans from away teams from other regions to travel for the events, she said.
A maximum of 5,000 spectators were allowed last May to return to matches for the final two rounds of the past soccer's season in regions with low levels of COVID-19 infections, but that only benefited a very small number of matches.
Darias said Spain was at a "stabilization phase" regarding the spread of COVID-19 as the 14-day coronavirus incidence rate reached 633 cases per 100,000 people, 20 less than the day before and 70 less than a week ago.
The number of total registered cases increased to 4.5 million, with the Delta variant responsible for 75% new infections, while the total number of deaths reached 81,844, Health Ministry data showed.
(Reporting by Joan Faus; Editing by Sandra Maler)