Residents of Madrid and Barcelona are eagerly anticipating the opening of parks, museums, churches and outdoor seating at bars this week, as Spain prepares to ease some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe.
In Madrid, where for two weeks authorities have begun to let runners and cyclists out for exercise for a few hours in the morning and evening, graphic designer Jimena Ruiz jogged near the wrought iron fence of Retiro park, still shut with a chain.
“I can’t wait for it,” she said wistfully. “I’m really looking forward to running, sunbathing and sitting by the fountains.”
The coronavirus death toll rose by 70 yesterday to 28,752, the eighth day in a row the daily death toll was under 100, the health ministry said.
The total number of coronavirus cases rose to 235,772.
Spain is now in the third month of its national emergency, having endured one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world from the coronavirus, which hit hardest in Madrid.
Madrid and Barcelona will follow other areas of the country where the lockdown has already been eased further.
Bars will be allowed to open terraces at 50% capacity and people will be permitted to meet in groups of a maximum of 10.
“A collective effort has allowed us to leave behind the most critical stage,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero yesterday, urging people not to let their guard down as the lockdown eases.
Madrid’s main hospitality organisation told newspaper Cinco Dias this week that it expected only around 10% of bars to open their terraces in the city.
On Saturday Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that Spain would reopen its borders to international tourism from July.
Tourism accounts for 12% of Spain’s economic output.
The French government meanwhile does not want its citizens to travel abroad this summer and recommends that they take their holidays in France, Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said.
Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron said it was unlikely that French people would be able to undertake major foreign trips this summer and that even trips within Europe may have to be limited to reduce the risk of a resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic.
Borne, in an interview with France Inter radio yesterday, also said that next week the government would decide on possibly loosening rules on French domestic travel, currently limited to a maximum 100km from home.
She said that Paris parks had to remain closed for now, as the capital was still a “red zone” for virus circulation.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has repeatedly called on the government to reopen parks as Parisians, who mostly live in apartments without gardens, tend to congregate around the closed parks where it is difficult to respect social distancing rules.
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