Madrid and Barcelona to ease lockdowns

Two people walk past graffiti in downtown Barcelona, Spain. EPA-EFE/Alejandro Garcia

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The Madrid region and the Barcelona metropolitan area will be able to move into the next phase of lockdown de-escalation from Monday, the Spanish government says.

The two regions have been the areas hardest hit by Covid-19, which has killed at least 27,940 people in the country, while at least 233,037 have become infected.

The loosening of the restrictions in both areas – and in parts of Castilla y León – means that all of Spain is now in at least the second phase of the lockdown exit plan.

From Monday, people in the three areas will be able to meet in groups of up to 10 individuals, and restaurant and cafe terraces will reopen at 50% capacity. Places of worship will also be able to operate at 30% capacity.

The health minister, Salvador Illa, said 47% of the country will move to the third and penultimate stage of the de-escalation on Monday. People in the Balearic Islands, the Canaries, and some parts of the mainland will then be able to visit shopping centres and eat inside restaurants – both of which will operate at 40% capacity.

The government’s latest two-week extension of the state of emergency originally declared on 14 March was hard-won, and protests against the lockdown have spread from Madrid to other regions. The far-right Vox party has called on people to take to their cars to demonstrate across Spain on Saturday.

María Jesús Montero, the finance minister who serves as the government’s spokeswoman, said that people had a right to protest, as long as their demonstrations did not risk spreading the coronavirus:

The only things that the state of emergency limits its people’s freedom of movement and reunion. Very often, some of the shouts you hear during these demonstrations are contradictory because people are out protesting. Some people shout, ‘Freedom!’, when they’re actually exercising the right to criticise things and protest. But you can’t mix up freedom with the freedom to infect people.

Read more via VOA News

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