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Madrid and Barcelona may be left under lockdown as Spain moves towards normality

Fri 8th May 2020
Madrid and Barcelona may be left under lockdown as Spain moves towards normality

Barcelona and Madrid could be left in lockdown as the rest of Spain attempts a move back towards normality.

The country's two largest cities were hardest hit by coronavirus, which has to date been one of the world's hardest-hit countries.

9 weeks into the crisis, the global community is keen to get economies up and running again, and Spanish socialist PM Pedro Sanchez is no exception. With the country's lockdown extended further on Wednesday night for another 2 weeks, Sanchez has the power to control citizens' movements as Spain emerges from 2 months of lockdown.

The Ministry of Health reported Spain's coronavirus death toll for Thursday as 213, down from 244 the previous day and far below peaks of nearly 1,000 per day in early April.

Sanchez's plan to ease lockdown restrictions has 4 stages, in which restrictions are progressively lifted, with each region applying to enter the next phase if it meets certain conditions, such as hospital capacity requirements.

Phase 1 would allow for groups of up to 10 people to meet in homes or outdoors, and street cafes to reopen. Religious celebrations can also be observed, as long as places of worship practise social distancing and limit themselves to 30% of their previous capacities.

Catalonia's regional government on Wednesday said Barcelona and Girona would not be included in phase 1 - due to start on Monday - saying there was a moderate to high risk of a new wave of infections.

Yet Madrid - hardest hit by the outbreak, and which is still registering high numbers of new cases - has applied to the national health ministry to begin opening its doors on Monday.

It was a move that led to the resignation on Thursday of the city's top public-health official, Yolanda Fuentes, who opposed lifting restrictions, newswire Europa reported, citing sources close to the regional health authority.

The rest of Spain's regions are expected to make a smooth transition to the first phase of lifting lockdown.

The government aims to have the country back to normal by the end of June, with sufficient hospital capacity to combat potential outbreaks.

Small businesses such as hairdressers started to open this week - albeit with restrictions - while Spaniards are now allowed out of their houses for exercise.

On Thursday, Zara owner Inditex started to reopen some of its smaller shops to be visited by appointment as part of a gradual reopening of its retail network.

Recommended Reading :

* Spain's daily coronavirus deaths lowest in a month

* Medical emergencies and pharmacies in Spain

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