Spain has announced a four-phase plan to lift its strict lock on coronaviruses and return to “new normal” by the end of June.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said each region would ease restrictions at a different rate, depending on the severity of its epidemic.
Four Spanish islands will be the first to ease measures on May 4, with the rest of Spain following a week later.
The coronavirus epidemic in Spain has so far killed nearly 24,000 people.
The country has endured some of the toughest containment measures in the world since March 14, with children banned from going out for six weeks.
There are, however, signs that the epidemic is now declining. As of Tuesday, the number of deaths per day recorded in Spain was 301, according to his Ministry of Health, against 950 in early April. The number of new infections also fell to 1,308 on Tuesday, its lowest level since Spain declared a state of alarm on March 14.
On Sunday, Spanish children under the age of 14 were finally allowed to leave their homes – one hour a day, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
As of May 2, the rest of the population will also be able to do brief outdoor activities and go for walks, if the infection rate continues to drop.
How will Spain leave the lockdown?
Spain has already taken an early step, allowing workers in industry, construction and certain services to return to work from April 13.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister presented a more comprehensive de-escalation plan in four phases, each expected to last approximately two weeks. He said the process would take at least six weeks and hopefully not more than eight.
“By the end of June, we as a country will have returned to new normal if the epidemic remains under control,” he said.
Before the start of the plan, there will be a preparatory “zero phase” from May 4 to 11, during which hairdressers and other businesses that make an appointment can reopen, restaurants can offer take-out services and sports leagues. professionals will resume their training. .
Sanchez said provinces would move to less restrictive phases depending on their infection rates, the capacity of local hospitals, and the extent to which distancing measures were observed.
The government wants distance work to continue as far as possible until June, when the fourth and final phase should be imposed.
Spain has avoided setting specific deadlines for easing the lock so as not to miss them if the situation changes, the Prime Minister said.
What reopens when?
- Small businesses and hotels may open May 11, but social distance will remain in effect
- Although some schools will reopen in late May, most will remain closed until the start of the new term in September, following a similar decision in Italy. On the other hand, France unveiled on Tuesday its intention to gradually resume lessons from May 11.
- Restaurants can start opening their terraces from mid-May, but must not be more than 30% full during the first phase
- Religious services may resume on a limited basis from May 11, up to one-third of the building’s capacity
- Theaters and cinemas will reopen from the end of May, but again there should be no more than a full third
- Stores can open at full capacity towards the end of June, with two meters (6 feet) between buyers
- Beaches to reopen in late June
Sanchez told the Spanish, “We are starting to see a result that will be a reward for the tremendous collective effort made over the past few weeks.”
But he warned that “the virus is still hiding.”
“It’s up to people now, we are embarking on a journey without a precise route map. […] What we have accomplished is enormous, but everything could be lost if we do not take care of each other. “
The Spanish economy has been hit by the impact of the virus and the Bank of Spain predicts unemployment could reach 21.7% this year.
Sanchez said that an “extraordinary scale” recession is looming now, which would require an extraordinary response from the EU.