As people prepared to emerge from their homes for walks after seven weeks of strict lockdown Spain closed a giant temporary hospital in Madrid yesterday that had become a symbol of its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The developments showed that Spain was pulling out of the crisis that has now claimed the lives of 24,824 people.
The death toll rose by 281 on Friday, a small rise from the previous day but still one of the lowest daily tolls in weeks.
Dozens of health workers staged a protest when Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso came to officially close the hospital, demanding more tests and better protective equipment.
41,239 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
Spanish trade unions were prevented from gathering in the streets in the traditional Labour Day rallies for the first time yesterday since the right to demonstrate was legalised in Spain in 1978.
Adapting to the restrictions, the unions called virtual rallies on social media, demanding labour rights as potentially the worst economic crisis in Spanish history and a huge surge of unemployment looms.
Economy Minister Nadia Calvino forecast a record fall in GDP of 9.2% in 2020 but said a projected recovery in 2021 with a 6.8% increase was expected.
Unemployment for this year is forecast to rise to 19%, easing to 17.2% next year.
British Airways’ parent company has signed agreements for £900 million of loans backed by the Spanish government, but the money cannot be used to help its UK airline which is cutting up to 12,000 jobs.
IAG said the money can be used to help its Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
But there are ‘restrictions on using the cash to benefit the rest of the IAG companies.
It came as budget airline Ryan Air hit out at the state bailout of competitors, including Lufthansa and Air France, which boss Michael O’Leary criticised as “financial doping” and “manifestly unfair”.