The government of Spain is aiming to reopen the country for tourism in July. The prime ministers of Spain and Italy sent a joint letter Thursday to the European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, asking her to take the lead so that in the European Union, "the lifting of restrictions at our internal borders must be carried out in coordinated, non-discriminatory manner," the letter stated.
Just over half of Spain's population will advance next Monday to the final phase of de-escalation, allowing for more activities and movement, as the government lifts additional confinement measures that have been in place since March to battle the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced Friday.
After 82 days under "the strictest state of emergency in Europe," the country moves steadily toward a "new normality," Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said during a press conference Friday.
Parts of Spain advance to phase 3 of reopening: Starting next Monday, “52% of the Spanish population will be in phase 3 and 48% in phase 2,” Illa said.
No part of Spain will remain in the more restrictive phase 1.
Officials say the territories with the least amount of new coronavirus cases and the best preparation for any new outbreaks advance to phase 3, including the nation's prime beach areas - Spain's Balearic and Canary Islands, and Andalusia, with its long Mediterranean coastline.
But the Madrid region and the Barcelona metropolitan area, will move only to Phase 2, which allows indoor restaurant seating and shopping centers to reopen, but only at 40 percent of their client capacity. The two largest cities were the hardest hit areas in Spain by the coronavirus.
Starting on June 8th, the territories in phase 3 will be managed by their respective regional governments, instead of the Spanish government, and the regions can decide if a particular territory is ready “to finish the state of alarm and move on to the new normality. This could be before June 21st,” Illa said.
Some context: Spain and Italy are among the hardest hit countries in Europe by Covid-19, and their potent tourism sectors have suffered, so the two prime ministers called on the EC to base the border openings on "common, clear and epidemiological criteria."
Various EU countries have talked of opening borders, closed due to Covid-19, at different times. Spain's parliament approved this week a final extension to the nation's state of emergency, that began on March 14 and will now continue until June 21, or just over three months in all.
The Health Minister once again today called for prudence in these final steps of the de-escalation process, so as not to go back in the fight against Covid-19.