Spain aims to reopen borders in June as deaths fall again

A woman enjoys the sunny weather at a terrace of the Malvarrosa beach, as some Spanish provinces are allowed to ease lockdown restrictions during phase one, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Valencia, Spain, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Tourism-dependent Spain aims to reopen its borders around the end of June as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds, a minister said on Monday, while deaths fell below 100 for the second day in a row. 

Madrid last week surprised its European Union partners by imposing a two-week quarantine on all overseas travellers and effectively keeping its borders closed, saying it wanted to avoid a second wave of COVID-19.

But the move was meant to be temporary and Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos said it would be phased out in parallel with travel being allowed within Spain.

“We can’t allow foreigners to travel while the Spanish population is confined,” he told broadcaster TVE. “From late June, we’ll start tourism activity, I hope … We must make Spain an attractive country from the health point of view.”

Tourism accounts for over 12% of Spain’s economic output. Even with borders reopening in late June, the industry’s revenues will fall by 93 to 124 billion euros ($100 to $134 billion), lobby group Exceltur estimates.

Spain registered 59 deaths overnight from the coronavirus, the second day the number has been below 100 and the lowest in two months, the health ministry said. 

The cumulative death toll rose to 27,709, while cases rose to 231,606 on Monday from 231,350 the previous day. 

“Today’s data are really good compared to what we’ve seen so far,” Health Emergency Chief Fernando Simon told reporters.

Simon said the mortality rate had decreased from around 11% during the late March peak in Spain to less than 2% for those who developed symptoms between April 27 and May 3. 

Encouraged by the statistics, Spain is slowly easing a strict lockdown in place since mid-March that even stopped people from going outside for exercise.

The Health Ministry said on Monday it would expand the use of face masks, currently obligatory on public transport. People must now wear masks in closed spaces and in public if it is not possible to guarantee the minimum safe distance of two metres.

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