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The fiesta does not also rise - Pamplona's bull-running festival cancelled again due to pandemic

MADRID, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Spain’s San Fermin festival, which attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world for the running of the bulls through the streets of Pamplona, has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic, the regional head said on Tuesday.

“An international festival like San Fermin, in which millions of people come to Navarra, won’t be possible,” Maria Chivite said.

The festival, which normally takes place every year in July, gained international fame from Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”.

As well as the morning bull runs and afternoon bullfights, the fiesta features round-the-clock singing, dancing and drinking by revellers dressed in white clothes and red neckscarves.

There are also religious events in honour of the saint.

Last year’s cancellation was the first in over four decades. The last time Pamplona did not celebrate the festival two years in a row was during the civil war in the 1930s.

In a country where COVID restrictions vary from region to region, the early cancellation of the festival contrasted with the Madrid region’s more relaxed approach to the pandemic, where from Friday, groups of up to six will be allowed to gather at the same table in restaurants, up from four now.

A 10 p.m. curfew might be pushed to midnight in Madrid, where people are still allowed to eat and drink inside bars and restaurants. Theatres and museums are open in the city.

On Monday, Spain reported 79,686 new cases since Friday, slowing from the previous weekend’s tally of 93,822 and pushing the cumulative total above 2.8 million. The death toll rose by 762 to 59,081.

Spain’s health ministry will decide this week whether or not to give AstraZeneca’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine to elderly people, Health Emergency Chief Fernando Simon told a news conference on Monday evening.

Several European countries including Germany, Poland and Austria have restricted the shot to younger people amid a lack of clinical data on its use in people over 65.

“It is quite possible that in the absence of evidence of possible side effects or of (the vaccine’s) efficacy in these groups, it will be recommended for younger groups,” Simon said. (Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen Editing by Ingrid Melander and Angus MacSwan)

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