Spain will reopen its borders to tourists in July and its top football division will kick off again in June, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced, marking another phase in the easing of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.
Mr Sanchez’s dual announcements coincided with calls for his resignation over the lockdown’s impact on the economy from the far-right Vox party, whose calls for protests in cities across Spain drew thousands of horn-blaring cars and motorbikes.
“From July, foreign tourism will resume in safe conditions. We will guarantee tourists will not take any risks and will not bring us any risks,” Mr Sanchez told a televised news conference, without giving further details.
Foreign visitors contribute around an eighth of Spain’s economic output and the Government curbs — taken to contain one of Europe’s severest coronavirus outbreaks — shuttered everything from hotels, bars and restaurants to beaches and leisure parks just as its tourism season got underway.
Spain’s overnight death toll from the coronavirus rose by 48 to a total of 28,678, the seventh straight day the fatality rate was less than 100, while the total number of cases rose to 235,290.
Restrictions on movement are being gradually eased, with bars in some parts of the country already being allowed to open their terraces, and museums and churches reopening — though residents of Madrid and Barcelona, both national epicentres of the virus, will only follow suit on Monday. Mr Sanchez said there would be a 10-day period of national mourning for victims, starting on Tuesday.
Caravan for Spain and Liberty’ takes to the streets
Several-thousand followers of the Vox party gathered in their cars and on motorbikes in the centre of Madrid and other Spanish cities to protest against the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The party accuses the Government and Mr Sanchez of lying about the impact of the health crisis and of violating Spaniards’ rights by confining people to their homes and closing businesses during the lockdown. Vox called for protesters to attend the rallies in their vehicles and thus skirt the ban on social gatherings. Vox called the protest the “Caravan for Spain and Liberty”.
“We will never forget what they have done,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal said from the open-top bus leading the caravan as it inched down a Madrid boulevard. Do not doubt that we will make them face justice. They know it and fear our freedom. That is why they try to intimidate us.”
Most cars and motorbikes were decked with Spanish flags. There were also small groups of people who participated on foot, with some not respecting the 2-metre social-distancing rules. Protests were also held in Barcelona, Sevilla and other provincial capitals. Spain’s Government said the confinement measures were necessary to save the nation’s hospitals from collapse and to save thousands of lives.