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A pedicab waits for customers on Las Ramblas. With 50% of the citizens of Catalonia vaccinated with the first dose, tourism begins to be seen in the streets of Barcelona, especially in the historic center of the city. Photo: Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images 
A pedicab waits for customers on Las Ramblas. With 50% of the citizens of Catalonia vaccinated with the first dose, tourism begins to be seen in the streets of Barcelona, especially in the historic center of the city. Photo: Paco Freire/SOPA Images…

Spain to lift some COVID restrictions as infection rates slow

The European country may finally see a light at the end of the tunnel after a transformative year and a half.

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Government officials in Spain are hoping to motion the end of COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has noted that public mask mandates will soon be a thing of the past. 

The news comes as the country hopes to jumpstart efforts to return to normalcy. Officials hope to relax restrictions and promote the revival of a slowed tourism industry. Restrictions once in effect for holiday resorts will also be lifted.

Restrictions are being lifted in reaction to slowed infection rates. For the first time since August 2020, Spain’s 14-day incidence curve has fallen below 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Sánchez signaled that vaccination efforts have reached a “cruising speed,” as a record 3.5 million doses were administered last week. He said he is hopeful there will soon be 15 million people vaccinated in the country.

The prime minister hopes to see 50% of Spain’s population vaccinated in the coming weeks. The end-summer goal is a vaccination rate of 70%.

Before the full removal of restrictions, Spain will continue requiring mask-use indoors and outdoors for people aged six and over — regardless of social distancing.

Masks have been required in the country in bars and restaurants since May 2020. This has restricted establishments to close shop at 5 p.m.

The Balearic Islands (including Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza) will now allow bars and restaurants to stay open until 2 a.m., both indoors and outdoors.

For now, indoor capacity in Spain will remain locked at 50% with six customers per table indoors and 12 customers per table outdoors.

Nightclubs, cocktail bars and music bars will soon be allowed to remain open until 2 a.m., and will apply with the addition of a no-dancing rule.

These restrictions will remain in effect until July 2. As long as infection rates continue to slow, the restrictions will be lowered even more come July.

In Andalusia, Spain’s most populated region according to a 2020 Statista study, and La Rioja, the incidence rates are above 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This is indicative of high-level risk. 

Navarra and the Basque Country have 14-day incidence rates above 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Madrid is currently the region with the highest number of occupied ICU beds. It is one of Spain’s most populated regions: marking another shortcoming for Sánchez, and one for the Spanish capital. 

The Balearic Islands have unveiled the website SafeTourism in an effort to track and provide information and advice for travelers. Users of the website will have access to information such as real-time beach capacity.

Efforts such as SafeTourism are to promote Spain’s removal from the UK’s amber list — a collection of countries currently not recommended for travel.

European tourists are freely visiting Spain now, however, local economic anxiety has been raised by an absence of British tourism.

Spain officials hope to soon allow British tourists with both coronavirus vaccinations to visit the country without requiring a post-travel quarantine.

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