Spain is weighing up further measures to bring life back to normal following the coronavirus epidemic, but the capital Madrid and the city of Barcelona could remain under tight restrictions for the time being.
Both cities have registered the highest number of coronavirus deaths and infections in Spain, one of the countries worst hit by the global pandemic.
But with the economy reeling and the public looking for an end to the lockdown that has kept us largely confined to our homes for eight weeks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government is anxious to get the country up and running again without causing a second wave of infections.
The government’s phased plan has several stages in which restrictions are progressively eased, such as the opening of bars or shops.
Each region must apply to enter a new phase if it considers it meets hospital capacity requirements, among other conditions.
Catalonia’s regional government has proposed that the Barcelona metropolitan area would not be included in Phase 1, which starts on Monday after the preparatory Phase 0, saying there is a moderate to high risk of a new wave.
Castilla y León, one of the largest but less populated regions in central Spain, also said it would wait until later.
Attention is now focused on Madrid, the epicentre of the outbreak here in Spain, which is still registering high numbers of new cases.
The region has submitted a request to the Health Ministry for it to move on to Phase 1, Health Emergency Chief Fernando Simon said the region’s data had to be evaluated.
The rest of Spain’s regions have also asked to move to Phase 1, the government’s plan has four phases and aims to have the country back to normal by the end of June, with sufficient hospital capacity to combat potential outbreaks.
Zara-owner Inditex started to reopen some of its smaller shops yesterday as part of a gradual reopening of its the network.
The economy shrunk by its biggest amount on record, 5.2%, in the first three months of 2020 due to the crisis.
Tourist destinations are also desperate to start up again. The government predicts tourism, a bedrock of the economy, could shrink as much as 9.2% this year.