Millions of people across Spain left their houses to exercise outdoors for the first time in 48 days since a lockdown was imposed in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the exception of essential workers and people unable to work from home, the vast majority of Spain's 47 million residents have been housebound since March 14, only allowed out to buy food or medicine, reports Efe news.

Children have been able to go out with a supervising adult since April 26 and are now be limited to a schedule between 12 pm and 7 pm. Health Minister Salvador Illa outlined a strict schedule of allotted time slots in a bid to avoid overcrowding, which permits individual exercise or walks between 6 am and 10 am and 8 pm and 11 pm.

Permission to walk one walk a day

Spain
Spain Pixabay

People are permitted one walk a day. They can go with a member of their household but must not stray further than one kilometre from their house. Individual sporting activities can be done within the municipal area. Additionally, the over 70s and people who need to be accompanied on a walk by a family member or carer are allowed out between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The schedule only applies to towns and villages with a population over 5,000. Towns and cities up and down the country have adapted public spaces, including extending crosswalks and adding markers to help people measure social distancing. In Madrid many of the main streets were busy with people on walks, runs or bike rides on Saturday morning.

The new measure came as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government prepared to gradually dismantle what has been one of the world's strict lockdowns over a period of at least eight weeks to help reboot the Spanish economy. Data released on Thursday showed Spain's GDP had dropped 5.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, a period that only takes into account two weeks of the lockdown in Spain.

Unlike countries such as the UK, France and Portugal, the Spanish government ruled out outdoor exercise when it declared a state of alarm. It forced the cancellation of a number of sporting events. So far, Spain has reported 24,824 deaths with 215,216 confirmed cases and 114,678 recoveries, according to figures released by the health ministry.