Members of Spain’s hospitality sector took to the streets on Thursday as the Health Ministry confirmed 356 more COVID-19 deaths and 19,511 new infections.

New infections are up 500 from Wednesday but down 2,000 from last week.

Deaths on the other hand are at the highest levels since April.

Within the last three days, 1,100 COVID-19 fatalities have been reported taking the nationwide death toll to 40,500.

Many hospitals across the country are feeling growing pressure due to the virus. Hard-hit regions have had to cancel surgeries and build makeshift hospitals to hold an overflow of patients.

Many of Spain’s worst-hit areas, mostly in the north of the country, have moved to close bars and restaurants to contain the viral spread.

On Thursday, Catalonia announced it would keep bars and restaurants closed for at least another 10 days.

The announcement coincided with another nation-wide hospitality sector protest, this time under the slogan: “without help, we’re ruined.” In the resort town of Benidorm, most hospitality businesses even shut their doors in strike.

The sector is asking the government for €8.5 billion ($10 billion) to help survive the pandemic and save at least one million jobs.

According to Spain’s hospitality associations, at least 65,000 hospitality businesses have had to shut down permanently and 350,000 employees have lost their jobs this year. Overall, they say hospitality businesses have earned just half of what they made in 2019.

Members of the sector say they have become scapegoats for the pandemic and that the Spanish government has failed to provide as much economic support as other countries like Germany, France or Greece.

Spanish media report that the pressure from the sector, which directly makes up 6.2% of the country’s GDP, has triggered the government to start working on a new fiscal package to ease the pain of Spain’s abundant bars, hotels and restaurants.

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