Madrid residents eager ahead of this week’s reopening

Workers set up a terrace which will be allowed to open, keeping the social distancing, from May 25, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Plaza Mayor Square in Madrid, Spain

Residents of Madrid and Barcelona are eagerly anticipating the opening of parks, museums, churches and outdoor seating at bars this week, as Spain prepares to ease some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe in its capital and second city.

In Madrid, where for two weeks authorities have begun to let runners and cyclists out for exercise for a few hours in the morning and evening, graphic designer Jimena Ruiz jogged near the wrought iron fence of Retiro park, still shut with a chain.

“I can’t wait for it,” she said wistfully. “I’m really looking forward to running, sunbathing and sitting by the fountains.”

Spain is now in the third month of its national emergency, having endured one of the largest per capita death tolls in the world from the coronavirus, which hit hardest in Madrid.

Madrid and Barcelona will follow other areas of the country where the lockdown has already been eased further. Bars will be allowed to open terraces at 50% capacity and people will be permitted to meet in groups of a maximum of 10.

Madrid’s main hospitality organisation told newspaper Cinco Dias this week it expected only around 10% of terraces to open in the city.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday announced Spain would reopen its borders to international tourism from July. Tourism accounts for more than 12% of Spain’s economic output.

Spain has so-far recorded more than 28,000 deaths from coronavirus and 235,000 cases.

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