Spain continues slow progress towards 'new normality' as COVID-19 eases
People's Daily

MADRID, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Spain continued its progress in easing lockdown restrictions on Monday with four islands moving into the third stage of the Spanish government's four-phase plan to gradually take the country to a "new normality."


People walk during the hours allowed by the government to exercise, on May 17, 2020 in Madrid, amid the national lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. (Photo: AFP)

The islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa in the Canary Islands group off the west coast of Africa, and Formentera in the Balearic Islands have all progressed into what is known as "Phase 2" in the easing of restrictions.

In Phase 2, bars and restaurants are able to open their interiors to serve customers at 30 percent of their normal capacity, while cinemas and theaters are also allowed to open at 30 percent capacity, and commercial centers and parks can open for a limited number of people, while time restrictions on outdoor exercise are also relaxed.

Other parts of Spain have been able to progress from Phase 0 to Phase 1 on Monday, with the provinces of Malaga and Granada in the Community of Andalusia in southern Spain joining the rest of the region in Phase 1.

Likewise, the provinces of Albacete and Cuenca in central Spain and parts of the Comunidad Valenciana in eastern Spain have also been able to move into Phase 1 in which bars are able to serve customers on their terraces at 50 percent capacity, while stores of under 400 square meters in size can open to a limited number of clients, and places of worship can open their doors at 30 percent of their capacity.

The metropolitan area of Barcelona and the urban centers in Castilla-Leon in central Spain remain in Phase 0 for another week after their respective regional governments informed the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services last week that they failed to meet the necessary criteria to advance.

The health ministry also decided that the Comunidad de Madrid has to stay in Phase 0 over doubts over the region's primary healthcare capacity, a continued lack of medical staff and the fact that many health centers remain closed, despite the protests of the regional government.

Some small concessions have been made in Madrid and Barcelona with small shops now able to welcome customers, although anyone wanting to sit at a terrace will have to wait a little while longer.

The government also confirmed on Sunday that from now on, people in towns of under 10,000 inhabitants can exercise outside with no time restrictions.

Sunday saw the number of new deaths from the disease in Spain fall to 87, which was the first time since March 16 the country has registered fewer than 100 victims in a 24-hour period.