Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Scooters, bicycles and skateboards returned to the streets of Spain on Sunday as children stepped outside for the first time in 44 days since living in home confinement under one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns.
Spain’s government let children under 14 years old leave their homes for one hour of supervised activity per day, but they must stay within 1 kilometer, or about half a mile, of their home. This brief freedom comes as the hard-hit nation reported its lowest daily death count in over a month.
“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” said Susana Sabaté, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys who were wearing child-size face-masks. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”
Parks remain closed and children are not allowed to play with other kids while the government maintains social distancing and hygiene rules.
Spain has been under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since March 14 as it fights to contain one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. The country has registered nearly 225,000 positive cases of the virus and 23,190 deaths as of Sunday, though the true figure is thought to be much higher.
The move to relax restrictions comes as Spain reported 288 coronavirus deaths Sunday, its lowest daily death count for coronavirus infections in five weeks. It is the first time the daily death toll has fallen below 300 fatalities since March 20.
The daily rate of infection also fell to 0.8 percent, down from over 20 percent a month before, officials said.
“The magnitude of today’s decrease is important,” Spanish health official Fernando Simón said. “As of tomorrow, our goal is no longer to reach the peak of the contagion curve, we are already there. Now we need to consolidate (our position) and think about how to safely move into the next phase of scaling down our restriction measures.”
Adults were expected to be allowed to exercise outdoors next week. Currently, only trips for buying food and medicine and unavoidable commutes to work are permitted.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is to give details on Tuesday on further moves to reduce the lockdown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.