MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's northern region of Galicia will be the first to exit the country's coronavirus lockdown from Monday, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Friday, part of a gradual opening up that Spain hopes can save its summer tourism season.
A state of emergency, declared country-wide in mid-March, will be effectively lifted in Galicia, while it remains in force in all the other 16 of Spain's regions.
The government will lift some restrictions in other regions, which have been following a four-phase plan to gradually exit from lockdown as the epidemic ebbs.
"From Monday, as many as 34 million citizens will be in the last phase, that's three out of four Spaniards," Illa told a news conference.
Some restrictions in the Valencia region, which includes popular tourism resorts such as Benidorm and Alicante, have been lifted. From Monday, gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed there and outdoor terraces will be allowed to open at 75% of their capacity in the Valencia region.
Tighter restrictions are still in force in the main cities of Madrid and Barcelona.
One of the world's most visited destinations, Spain's borders are still closed to tourists and those allowed to travel from abroad have to respect a 14-day quarantine.
Although severely affected by the coronavirus, Spain now seems to have it under control and plans to reopen its borders to foreign visitors from July 1 though there are earlier exceptions to let a group of German tourists into the Balearic Islands.
The 2.7 million inhabitants of Galicia, known for its beautiful beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and a Catholic holy site in Santiago de Compostela, "will enter into a new normalcy", Illa said.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)