El Salvador bans mass gatherings amid coronavirus surge

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador’s congress voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impose a 90-day ban on sporting events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings because of a surge in coronavirus cases.

Face masks will be mandatory at any public event still allowed. Fines and closures will be assessed against any venue or organizer that violates the ban.

Officials reported 2,284 news cases in the first 10 days of July, 35% more than in the same period of June.

El Salvador has so far received enough coronavirus vaccine doses to cover about half of the country’s 6.5 million people. The country has registered 81,644 coronavirus infections and 2,457 COVID-19 deaths.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team is scheduled to play its opening World Cup qualifier at El Salvador on Sept. 2, the first of 14 matches through March for eight nations trying to secure the three guaranteed berths from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

It is unclear whether that match will be played behind closed doors in San Salvador or moved to a third country. American players are to gather in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug, 31 before heading to the match. They also play Canada on Sept. 5 in Nashville and at Honduras on Sept. 8.