Coronavirus: Spain aims to ease lockdown in second half of May | World News

Spain is aiming to ease its coronavirus lockdown in the second half of May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said.

Restrictions could return, however, if COVID-19 cases begin to rise again.

There may be some “back-and-forth” as the pandemic evolves, Mr Sanchez told parliament, despite it appearing to have passed its peak in Spain.

A volunteer arranges free food packages at the parish church of Santa Anna in Barcelona

Mr Sanchez said measures would be eased slowly and gradually, and asked for the state of emergency to be extended until 9 May.

The health ministry reported a further 435 deaths on Wednesday, taking Spain’s total to 21,717.

There have been more than 208,000 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world – behind the US – and has imposed one of the most stringent lockdowns.

Children have been stopped from leaving their homes, even for walks, although that is due to be relaxed in the coming days.

Initially, it was announced that children would only be allowed to accompany parents to buy food or medicine.

But after criticism and pot-banging protests on balconies, the government said on Tuesday evening that those under 14 would be able to take short walks outside if they were supervised.

A park in Madrid which has been sealed by police
A park in Madrid which has been sealed by police

Some non-essential workers have returned to their jobs.

Carmaker SEAT, which employs about 15,000 people, said it planned to resume production from 27 April, while carrying out 3,000 coronavirus tests a week on its workforce.

Meanwhile, the San Fermin bull-running fiesta in Pamplona has been suspended for the first time in four decades.

And authorities in the Valencian town of Bunol have postponed the 75th annual Tomatina festival, where thousands gather every August to pelt each other with fresh tomatoes.

It is the first cancellation since 1957.

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