COVID-19 Cases

Adios, jogging on indoors! After 49 days of lockdown, Spaniards get outside to practice


Joggers, cyclists and surfers across Spain emerged early on Saturday from their homes, with adults being allowed out for exercise for the first time in seven weeks as the government began to ease tough restrictions on coronavirus.

Runners and cyclists crowded paths near the beach in Barcelona, while surfers and paddle-boarders enjoyed the waves out there.

In Castelldefels, a town near Barcelona, Mar Visser, 45, who lost her job as an event organizer, was jogging along the path.

"I've longed for this. It beats running inside my house, or doing yoga or inside Pilates, "she said.

In Madrid, cyclists and skateboarders streamed along the broad boulevards of the city, ducking under police tape set up to prevent people from gathering together in common areas.

Hit by one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, Spain imposed a strict lockdown in March, confining the majority of the population to their homes for all but essential voyages.

Sports and recreational walks were banned as authorities scrambled to stop the spread of the disease and sought to ease the burden on the stricken healthcare system.

Charlotte Fraser-Prynne, 41, a British government affairs consultant, was among the first to enjoy the new freedom at 6 a.m. Near the Retiro Park, in Madrid.

While the park remained closed, there were hundreds of people running around on the pavement.

"I've been awaiting this for weeks. I joked with my friends that I was going to be the first out in Madrid. After six weeks of yoga videos, I'm extremely happy to be out, "she said.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called on people to follow social distancing guidelines and act with caution.

"We are taking a new step in the measures to ease containment today but we have to do it with prudence and responsibility. There is still the virus,' he tweeted.

As infection rates have fallen and hospitals have regained their footing, the government of Sanchez has shifted its focus to reopening the country in a phased manner and reviving a badly battered economy.

Children under 14 were allowed out for an hour per day of supervised activity last weekend.

Susana Piego, 52, from Madrid, was out on Saturday cycling in the city centre, welcoming the newly found freedom.

"The plan to ease it out is good," she said. "Little by little, as the WHO says, we have to go so that there is no other spike," she said.

On Friday, the World Health Organization said that countries must gradually lift lockdowns, while being prepared to restore restrictions if the virus jumps back.


This week Sanchez announced a four-phase plan to return the country to what he called "new normality" by the end of June.

The government has implemented a shift system, allocating different time slots to different age groups, to avoid overcrowding as people get outwards.

Businesses operating by appointment, such as hairdressers, are allowed to open from Monday onwards. Bars and restaurants will remain closed for another week or more at least.

Spain recorded a coronavirus death toll of 25,100 on Saturday and more than 216,582 cases, according to health ministry data.

The lockdown has hammered the economy, and the government expects to contract 9.2 per cent in 2020 for gross domestic product (GDP).