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Coronavirus

Outdoor Service Restarts at Bars in Spain’s Biggest Cities

MADRID — Spain is making progress on its staggered plan out of the confinement against the new coronavirus.

Roughly half of the population, including residents in the biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are entering phase 1 on Monday, which allows social gatherings in limited numbers, restaurant and bar service with outdoor sitting and some cultural and sports activities.

“It is all very strange but we missed this,” María Cámara said as she enjoyed a morning breakfast in a central Madrid terrace for the first time in over two months.

Cámara and her partner, both warehouse workers, had turned the morning coffee in a bar into a routine followed religiously after long night shifts. “We really noticed not being able to do this,” she said. “We went for a walk instead. But this is great.”

Beyond hand-sanitizer, masks and tables separated by social distancing norms, coffee bar owner Roberto Fernández said that the saddest novelty is those old customers who won’t show up anymore.

“We are also a little sad today, as we have lost two of our more elderly regular customers,” Fernández said. “They used to come every day but now they have left us.”

The other half of the country, provinces with fewer infections or ready to face a possible second outbreak, are going one step further in loosening up restrictions. That includes no time limits on outdoor activities, meetings of up to 15 people, weddings, and visits to nursing homes and beaches. Some vocational schools in the Basque country are also resuming classroom activity.

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