Spain curfew lifts: Hundreds party as coronavirus restrictions ease

Footage was shared of people taking to the beaches of Barcelona and the streets of Madrid to celebrate the end of Spain’s six-month state of emergency to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people could be seen without a mask, not respecting social distancing, and gathering in groups much larger than six — all in violation of coronavirus restrictions that remain in place.

In one video during the final hours of curfew Saturday night, a police van patrolling Barcelona beach warns crowds over a loudspeaker: “It’s forbidden to gather in groups of more than six people, please leave the beach.”

In the capital Madrid, police intervened to push people out of the central Puerta del Sol square, where many were dancing and singing.

“In general people in my area have been very responsible,” said Oriol Estival, a 22-year-old from Sant Celoni, a village around 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Barcelona. “Large crowds have occurred in large cities like Barcelona or Madrid. People know the places where there are no police.”

A geography student at the autonomous university of Barcelona, Estival said he saw groups of six drinking at the park in his town, but nothing like the partying seen in videos around Spain.

After a strict stay-at-home order last spring at the start of pandemic, Spain’s second state of emergency went into effect last October. It allowed more activity but still included a nationwide late-night curfew, and restrictions on social gatherings and travel within Spain.
People dance on the beach in Barcelona. Spain is relaxing overall measures to contain the coronavirus this weekend, allowing residents to travel across regions.

Nationwide, there are 198 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population, but some regions that will maintain restrictions, like Navarra, have a higher rate.

Nearly 28% of Spaniards, or 13.2 million, have received at least one dose of the vaccine against Covid-19, while 12.6% have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest data released Friday.

“I am a bit worried, although the most vulnerable people are already vaccinated, I think we should still be careful of the cases increasing again,” Natalia Pardo Lorente, a biomedical researcher at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, told CNN Sunday. “Even while the curfew was still active Friday, I saw large groups of people drinking in the Ciutadella and it was after 10 at night.

“Is there really a need to be gathering in groups of 100 people or more in parks? Why is it not enough to meet your close friends and that’s it?” she added.

CNN’s Eoin McSweeney contributed to this report.

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