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Spain enters ‘new normal’ amid caution over future outbreaks

Madrid, June 22 (IANS) Spain entered the “new normal” on Monday after 98 days under a state of alarm due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents spent more than three months with significant restrictions on movement and were now facing the challenge of controlling new outbreaks, reports Efe news.

Train and bus stations had more passengers on Monday and services have been increased compared to last week, when many limitations had been lifted, but have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

All business activities have been allowed to restart in a bid to boost the country’s economy, with a particular focus on tourism just in time for the beginning of the summer season.

The sector is one of the foundations of the Spanish economy and responsible for more than 12 per cent of the national GDP.

Spain reopened its borders with other countries in the Schengen zone on Sunday, apart from Portugal where travellers will have to wait until July 1 to cross the frontier without a two-week quarantine period.

Visitors have started to arrive from overseas and scores of flights have brought hundreds of international travellers.

Around 100 international flights landed in Spanish airports on Sunday, with the highest numbers in Madrid and Barcelona, as well as another 250 domestic flights.

Travel between Spain’s provinces is also allowed again which will give a boost to domestic tourism.

Spain was the second-most visited country for holidaymakers last year and authorities in coastal areas have been preparing beaches for the first foreign visitors in more than three months.

Health officials have highlighted the importance of maintaining precautionary measures, such as the use of masks, which are still mandatory on public transport and in places where it is not possible to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres.

“We have to remember that the virus is still with us, we have controlled it but we have not defeated it,” Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Monday in a radio interview.

The pandemic has caused 28,323 deaths and 246,272 confirmed cases in Spain, according to official data.

–IANS

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