All Spaniards on Saturday were allowed to go for walks or play sport after 48 days of home confinement to combat the coronavirus in one of the worst-hit countries.
Spain’s nearly 47 million people have since March 14 lived under one of the strictest virus lockdowns in the world, with adults authorised to leave home only to buy food, medicine or walk the dog.
The lockdown was prolonged late last month until May 9 but Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday unveiled a plan to gradually begin easing the restrictions in four phases that should be completed by the end of June.
As part of that, children under 14 were last week allowed to step outside for walks. And the restrictions were further eased on Saturday.
“I am going out for the first time for a short walk,” said 87-year-old Amalia Garcia Manso as she wandered down Madrid’s Calle Mayor, wearing a facemask and gloves and supported by a cane and the arm of her daughter.
“This hurts, it’s hard for me to see that all of Madrid is closed”, she said, on one of the city’s main shopping streets.
With over 215,000 cases and almost 25,000 deaths, Spain is one of the worst-hit countries in the world.
– ‘A child on Christmas Eve’ –
Despite the easing of the lockdown, many restrictions remained. In towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants, children and the elderly cannot leave home at the same times.
The time slots of 10am to midday and 7pm until 8pm are reserved for people over 70 and those they need to accompany them.
From 6am to 10am and from 8pm to 11 pm, adolescents of over 14 and adults can leave to go for walks of less than one kilometre (about half a mile)from their homes, but only two at a time from the same household.
Near Madrid’s central Retiro Park, which remains closed, many residents were out jogging, some in groups.
A policeman used a loudhailer to urge people to jog only on the sidewalks and not on the road.
Marcos Abeytua, a 42-year-old financial advisor who lives in the normally bustling district of Chueca, said he got up at 7am to go for a run, something he would not normally do on a Saturday morning as would likely still be recovering from a late Friday night out.
“After so many weeks in confinement, I badly wanted to go out, run, see the world,” he said. “Yesterday, I was like a child on Christmas Eve.”
Afternoons are reserved for children under 14, who can leave home accompanied by an adult betweem midday and 7pm.