Spanish crowd in first outdoor exercise since mid-March

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BARCELONA, SPAIN –
Thousands of Spaniards woke up early and put on their sports shoes on Saturday after the end of an exercise ban during the coronavirus pandemic after seven weeks.

Morning folks in sportswear rushed to the streets at 6 a.m. to run, bike and brisk walk, and many took extra care to relax the atrophied muscles so that a twisted ankle or a pulled hamstring does not spoil the rush of release.

“I feel good, but tired. You will certainly notice that it has been a month and I am not in good shape, ”said Cristina Palomeque, 36, after a 20-minute jog in Barcelona.

Some have tried to run with masks despite the additional difficulty in breathing. Masks will be needed on public transport starting Monday to prevent infections with the virus responsible for COVID-19, which has hit Spain hard.

Despite a slight apprehension and the physical challenge, Palomeque said she had decided it was time to move again. She was tired of taking online Zumba and yoga classes.

“Some people think it may be too early (to go out), like me, but it is also important to exercise for health reasons,” she said.

A bright sunny sky in Barcelona attracted many people to the promenade to get as close as possible to the beach, which is still prohibited. People are supposed to respect a distance of 2 meters, but the crowd in some places made this impossible.

“We woke up very early to not find too many people, but it’s complicated,” said Eduardo Conte, 37, after a run along the Mediterranean beach. “I feel rushed (to be back outside), but you have to take it easy so that we don’t all end up with injuries. “

The images of crowds enjoying the good weather and getting closer to each other prompted the chief of health of the region of Castilla Leon to comment: “I think that even people who have never run run today. “

Regional health chief Veronica Casado has called on people to act responsibly so that Spain does not see a rebound in the virus that would require reducing the additional freedom to go out in public.

The scene on Saturday was similar to that of last weekend, when parents in Spain were allowed to take their children for a walk for the first time in six weeks. After some complaints from local authorities in the worst cases, the population behaved better throughout the week.

The government has introduced time slots for age groups and activities to prevent crowds from training and exposing seniors at greatest risk.

People aged 14 to 70 can now exercise individually and couples in this age group who live together can go for a walk from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 11 p.m. People over 70 can go out from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. at 8 p.m., with a caregiver if necessary.

Children under 14 are now allowed to go out between noon and 7 p.m. for walks with a parent, up to an hour, less than a kilometer from the house. They cannot play with other children.

Towns and villages with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants are exempt from the age distribution schedule.

“Now we are finally seeing the results of all these weeks of detention, (and) we deserve some relief,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a televised speech, while warning that citizens should not “lower the guard “. “

“I am confident that in the next few months, until we have a vaccine, we will see more outbreaks (of viruses),” said Sanchez. “What we need to guarantee is that these epidemics do not endanger our national health system. “

Since the foreclosure of Spain took effect on March 14, only adults have been able to leave their homes and only to buy food, medicine and other essentials, and to walk dogs near their homes . For two weeks, all travel was prohibited; only unavoidable commuting between home and work is now allowed, with authorities encouraging people to work from home.

Spain has detailed a complex restoration plan that will vary by province and take effect on Monday. Those with the fewest cases and who have health care resources to manage a rebound will be the first to benefit from further easing.

The foreclosure, among the strictest in the world, has managed to reduce daily increases from more than 20% in cases to less than 1% and to save Spanish hospitals from collapse.

Spain has 25,100 confirmed virus deaths after a daily increase of 276 was reported on Saturday. This is down from the daily death toll of over 900 a month ago. A further 1,147 cases reported in the past 24 hours brought the total of confirmed infections to 216,582.

The huge field hospital that the military helped set up in a convention center in Madrid was closed on Friday. Madrid had already closed the makeshift morgue that the army had set up in an ice rink.

In Madrid, police reminded athletes that parks are still prohibited by order of the city hall.

“These are very strict restrictions, but that’s what it is. We must follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health because they know more than we do, ”said Manuel Garcia, 52, in the capital.

“This feeling of freedom is great. When it returns to normal, we will all feel even better. “

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Renata Brito in Barcelona and Alicia Leon and Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed.

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