Crowds Pour Into Streets to Mark Lifting of Curfew

Spain ends national state of emergency over coronavirus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2021 11:55 AM CDT
Crowds Pour Into Streets to Mark Lifting of Curfew
Police officers stand guard as people crowd on the beach in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Impromptu street celebrations erupted across Spain as the clock struck midnight on Saturday, when a six-month-long national state of emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus ended and many nighttime curfews were lifted. In Madrid, police had to usher revelers out of the central Puerta del Sol square, per the AP, where the scenes of unmasked dancing and group singing mimicked pre-pandemic nightlife. Teenagers and young adults also poured into central squares and beaches of Barcelona to mark the relaxation of restrictions. “Freedom!” said Juan Cadavid, who was reconnecting with friends. "(It's) a bit scary, you know, because of COVID, but I want to feel like this around a lot of people." The 25-year-old Barcelona resident was also rejoicing at the prospect of going back to work at a Michelin-star restaurant that has been closed for seven months due to pandemic-related restrictions.

Local restaurants can serve dinner again and stay open until 11pm. But a limit of four people per table remains, and indoor dining is limited to 30% of capacity. Police in Madrid said officers intervened in more than 450 incidents in which restrictions were being ignored, prompting the Spanish capital's mayor to denounce the scenes on social media depicting street parties. “Each one of us needs to understand that we live in a society," Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said Sunday, adding that the end of curfews "doesn't mean that the pandemic has ended." With the end of the state of emergency, bans on traveling across Spain's regions have also been lifted and many curbs on social gatherings were relaxed. Only four of the country's 19 regions and autonomous cities are keeping curfews in place. The prime minister has said existing regulations should be enough to respond to outbreaks at the regional level as the vaccine rollout is speeding up.

(Read more Spain stories.)

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