Spain registered its lowest daily number of coronavirus deaths yesterday since mid-March as half the population prepared for an easing of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, although not yet for Madrid and Barcelona.
Emergency Health Chief Fernando Simon said the daily death toll of 143, down from 179 on Saturday, was the lowest since March 18.
Just over half of Spain’s 47 million people progress to Phase 1 of the easing plan today after the government decided that their regions met the necessary criteria.
Up to 10 people will be able to gather together and people will also be allowed to move freely around their province.
In regions that qualify, bars, restaurants and shops will be allowed to open at reduced capacity and museums, gyms and hotels will open their doors for the first time in nearly two months.
But Madrid, Barcelona and other cities including Valencia, Malaga and Granada will remain in Phase 0, much to the annoyance of regional governments struggling with the economic implications of a prolonged lockdown.
Madrid regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso says it’s a blow for the economy.
If everything continues as the experts predict, she said the virus is going to be here for between one and two years, so since it is a long race for the health service to get to the next phase.
Spain has so far reported 224,390 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 26,621 deaths, one of the highest fatality rates in the world.
Sounding a cautious note on relaxing lockdown measures, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero acknowledged the disappointment of some regions over staying in Phase 0.
But, speaking after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez held a virtual meeting with regional leaders she said, running before we can walk will take us right back to square one.
Meanwhile, La Liga said five players in Spain’s top two football divisions have tested positive for coronavirus since clubs began testing last week.
La Liga hopes matches will resume, without spectators, by June.