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New Year Festivities

Madrid steps up security for New Year’s Eve celebrations

City to deploy 600 personnel and to restrict access to Puerta del Sol for the first time

The entrance to Sol subway station on New Year’s Eve 2014. EFE

With the terrorist threat from last month’s Paris attacks still lingering, Madrid will be joining other major cities around the world in reinforcing security for its New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Around 600 police officers, firefighters and paramedics will be deployed in the center of the Spanish capital and for the first time limits will be placed on the number of people allowed in to central Puerta del Sol square, where tens of thousands gather at midnight to take part in the tradition of eating 12 grapes to coincide with the 12 chimes of the clock.

Municipal and National Police will also be carrying out bag and body searches

According to information released by City Hall on Wednesday, volunteers from the Civil Protection service stationed at four entry points – at Carrera de San Jerónimo, Calle Alcalá, Calle Mayor and Calle Arenal – will be counting the number of people heading into the square to ensure it does not surpass 25,000. Municipal and National Police will also be carrying out bag and body searches.

From 9pm, the subway, rail and bus services into Sol will be closed for the night and will not be opened again until the clean-up operation after the celebrations is complete. Traffic and pedestrian access around the Sol area will also be affected, but people wishing to “go to the cafes and restaurants in the Puerta del Sol and the surrounding area will be allowed access.”

Following the attacks in Paris on November 13, Spain remains on a level four alert – the second-highest on the country’s one-to-five scale – which entails a strong presence of security personnel at strategic locations such as airports, train stations, power stations and telecommunications centers.

English version by Nick Funnell.