Spain has revealed a gradual exit strategy from its lockdown in a bid to return to a sense of normality while keeping coronavirus under control.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the plan consisting of four phases on Tuesday, stressing that it would be a measured transition and could occur at different rates across Spain’s provinces and islands.
Each phase will last for a minimum of two weeks – a duration picked due to it also being the amount of time between a person getting infected with COVID-19 and symptoms surfacing.
He said the country was currently in “phase zero” – the preparation phase of the transition – and cited the slight relief given to citizens by allowing adults outside by May 2.
Children have been permitted to go outside for an hour of exercise every day since Sunday.
So what are the other three phases?
Phase 1: Small businesses will be allowed to reopen, while specific shopping hours will set out for those who are over 65 years old. Larger shopping centres will remain closed.
Hotels and other tourist accommodation will also reopen; however common areas will not be accessible.
Face masks are “highly recommended” on public transport.
Phase 2: Restaurant interiors will be permitted to carry out table service, while educational centres will also be able to open with exceptions.
Cultural events will less than 50 people in enclosed areas and 400 in outside spaces will be allowed.
Phase 3: This is an advanced phase, in which restrictions will be “limited”.
More than 23,000 people have died in Spain after contracting coronavirus, making the country one of the worst affected in the world by the illness.
In recent weeks, it has seen a steadily declining number of deaths per day, leading to the country’s plan to tentatively ease lockdown restrictions.
During Tuesday’s speech, Sanchez said he would like to introduce the first phase of the transition on May 4, which would stay in place for at least a fortnight providing there was no sudden resurgence in new cases.
This first phase would be enacted across the majority of mainland Spain, with Sanchez saying that Formentera Island, the Balearic Islands, and the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa, in the Canary Islands would follow at a later date.
It comes as France also revealed its exit strategy on Tuesday, with most businesses planning to reopen on May 11.
Some schools will also resume teaching from the same date, while social distancing measures will continue to be in place.