Spain set for new lockdown freedoms

The Spanish government has said that majority of the population would from next week progress into the third stage of the four-phase lifting of the coronavirus lockdown.

Some 52 per cent of the population in regions of northern, eastern and southern Spain will from Monday see restaurants and bars allowed to partially reopen interior spaces as well as the elimination of allocated hours for outdoor exercise, reports Efe news.

Madrid, Barcelona and parts of Castile and Leon, comprising some 48 per cent of the country’s 47 million people, will also progress with the lifting of the lockdown, but are one stage behind the rest of the country.

The government is to hand lockdown decision-making powers to regional leaders once an area reaches phase three of the de-escalation plan.

It means regions, rather than the central government, will get to choose whether or not to proceed to the final stage, which the government has billed the new normality.

Details of what kind of restrictions will remain in place in that phase should be fleshed out next week.

Some 25 million people in phase three on Monday will enjoy rediscovered freedoms such as being able to meet up in groups of 20.

Groups of up to 50 people can attend outdoor funeral services.

Weddings can go ahead with a maximum of 150 guests in outdoor spaces or 75 indoors.

Cinemas, theatres and other entertainment venues can also resume activities at 50 percent capacity.

Meanwhile, residents of the capital Madrid and Barcelona, two of the worst-hit by the pandemic, and the affected provinces of Castile and Leon will see the limit of how many friends and family they can meet grow from 10 to 15.

The government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has approved a final extension to the state of alarm underpinning the draconian lockdown first enforced on 14 March in a bid to shield the country’s health system from the impact of the virus.

It is now due to expire on June 21.

While much of the European Union seeks to lift internal border restrictions by June 15, Spain is aiming to follow suit on July 1.

The Spanish and Italian government on Friday penned a joint letter to the EU urging coordination in this regard.