Spain plans to start winding down its coronavirus lockdown measures by the second half of May, its prime minister announced Wednesday.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the announcement during a parliamentary session, cautioning easing the lockdown would be “slow and gradual” in the country, which has the second-highest number of reported virus cases in the world and the third-highest death toll.
“The second half of May offers the prospect of a scaling-back [of the lockdown], of phase two of the fight” when the country’s restrictions “will be modified,” Sanchez said.
The lockdown will not be completely lifted, however, “until we are prepared for it because we are not going to take any risks,” Sanchez said.
“Any optimism must be tempered by prudence,” he added. “We must be incredibly careful in this phase.”
The country’s lockdown, which started on March 14, has been twice extended, and parliament is expected on Wednesday to prolong it until May 9.
But in an early step to loosen the restrictions, children under 14 cooped up in their homes will be allowed outside for short, supervised walks beginning Sunday, the government said Tuesday night.
Spain reported 399 coronavirus deaths on Monday — the lowest in four weeks, but a day later, that number rose to 430, with officials explaining the numbers tend to rise on Tuesdays because of delays in receiving weekend data on regional deaths.
A total of 21,717 deaths had been reported in the country by Wednesday morning — the third-highest reported number in the world behind the US at more than 45,000 and Italy at more than 24,500, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The country also has the second-highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the world, next to the US. A total of 208,389 cases had been reported by Wednesday, according to the data.
With Post Wires
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