Half of Spaniards will see eased lockout from Monday as daily deaths drop

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MADRID (Reuters) – The daily death toll from coronavirus in Spain fell to its second lowest level since mid-March Saturday, as half of the country prepared to move on to the next phase of exit from the one of the most severe blockages in Europe.

People practice outdoor activities along Paseo de la Castellana avenue after local authorities in Madrid have allowed certain streets for pedestrian use only during weekends and public holidays in the middle of l epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain, May 9, 2020. REUTERS / Sergio Perez

Spain has started to loosen its lockout this week, but Phase 1 will include a considerable loosening of the measures that will allow people to travel to their provinces, attend concerts and go to the theater. Meetings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

The country’s daily death toll from coronavirus fell to 179 on Saturday from 229 the day before and a fraction of more than 900 in early April.

The total number of cumulative deaths rose to 26,478 while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 223,578 against 222,857 the day before, said the Ministry of Health.

“We have managed to recover 99% of the ground lost due to the virus,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday in a televised speech. But he warned those entering phase 1 to be “cautious” and “cautious”.

He said a period of national mourning would be called after the whole country moved to phase 1.

Some 51% of the population will move to phase 1 of a four-step easing plan on Monday after the government decides that the areas in which they live meet the necessary criteria.

In cut regions such as the Canary Islands and the Balearics, bars, restaurants and shops will open at reduced capacity and museums, gymnasiums and hotels will open for the first time in almost two months .

The country’s two largest cities – Madrid and Barcelona – do not currently meet the flexibility criteria and will remain in phase 0.

Emergency chief Fernando Simon urged the Spaniards not to think of it as “a race” on Saturday and said it was possible that Madrid would be ready to take the next step in a week.

However, some regional governments were unhappy to be retained on phase 0.

Andalusian leader Juanma Moreno, a member of the Popular Opposition Party, complained that she had not been able to submit a flexibility proposal based on administrative health districts rather than provinces, like other regions like Catalonia.

“I will ask that this decision be reviewed and that the same criteria be applied to us as to the others,” he said.

Madrid region vice-president Ignacio Aguado on Friday “regretted” the government did not allow Madrid to move forward and said it would request phase 1 on May 18 .

The government will always encourage homework as much as possible and companies will have to use staggered start and end times to ensure distancing measures.

In a positive measure for the Spanish tourism industry, which accounts for around 12% of economic production, hotels will be allowed to open all rooms and nature tourism will be allowed for groups of up to 10 people.

Dozens of joggers and cyclists hit Madrid’s six-lane avenue Castellana on Saturday morning, one of the main transportation arteries closed to vehicles for the weekend.

“I think it’s really good, what they did with the Castellana is fantastic,” said Madrid resident Carlos de la Torre for an early morning run.

Slideshow (6 Images)

Madrid’s city hall trampled 29 roads this weekend to keep crowds from gathering where runners and walkers are forced to share sidewalks and walkways.

Cyclist Maria Galeote welcomed this decision.

“There is so much space between people, I think it’s great,” she told Reuters. “The cycle paths are crowded with runners, walkers and all cyclists. It gives us some space to breathe. “

Report by Nathan Allen, Guillermo Martinez and Elena Rodriguez; Written by Jessica Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans and Christina Fincher

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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