MADRID — The Spanish government is allowing Madrid and Barcelona to ease their lockdown measures.
Most of Spain has begun to slowly reopen since May 11, but those two areas combine for nearly half of the country’s 233,000 officially recorded cases. Spain’s COVID-19 death toll of almost 28,000 is the world’s fifth highest.
The government is allowing the country’s 17 autonomous regions to gradually lift restrictions on movement and social distancing. The loosening of limits is staggered over four stages, with a requirement that certain targets, including the number of cases and hospital capacity, are met before moving onto the next stage.
Health Minister Salvador Illa says the Madrid region and city of Barcelona are moving into Phase 1 on Monday. That permits outdoor-only seating for restaurants and bars up to 50% of capacity, gatherings of families and friends of up to 10 people. It also allows the reopening of small shops, museums, cinemas and places of worship, all with restrictions on capacity.