The daily death toll from the coronavirus here fell to its second lowest since mid-March yesterday, as half the country prepares to move to the next phase of an exit from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
Spain began to loosen its lockdown last week, but Phase 1 will include a considerable easing of measures that will allow people to move around their province as well as attend concerts and go to the theatre. Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 179 yesterday, down from 229 the previous day just a fraction of the highs above 900 seen in early April.
The cumulative death total rose to 26,478 while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 223,578 from 222,857 the day before.
Some 51% of the population will progress to Phase 1 of the four-step easing plan tomorrow after the government decided the regions in which they lived met the necessary criteria.
In regions that made the cut bars, restaurants and shops will open at reduced capacity, and museums, gyms and hotels will open their doors for the first time in nearly two months.
The country’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, do not currently meet the criteria for easing and will remain on Phase 0.
The government will still encourage homeworking where possible and companies will have to implement staggered start and finish times to ensure distancing measures.
In a positive step for Spain’s tourism industry, which contributes around 12% of economic output, hotels will be allowed to open all rooms and nature tourism will be allowed for groups of up to 10.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called on people to exercise “total caution” ahead of the partial relaxation of the country’s rules.
In places where the lockdown is eased, people should “take precautions as if they were infected” Sanchez said.
He warned in a TV address “The virus has not disappeared. It is still on the prowl.”