Spain will reopen its borders to tourists in July and its soccer division will kick off again in June, the Prime Minister said on Saturday.
Pedro Sanchez’s dual announcements coincided with calls for his resignation over the lockdown’s impact on jobs and the economy from the far-right Vox party, which called a protest through cities across Spain that drew thousands of horn-blaring cars and motorbikes.
“From July, foreign tourism will resume in safe conditions. We will guarantee tourists will not take any risks and will not bring us any risks,” Sanchez told a televised news conference, without giving any further details.
The visitors contribute around an eighth of Spain’s economic output and the government curbs – taken to contain one of Europe’s severest coronavirus outbreaks – have shuttered everything from hotels, bars and restaurants to beaches and leisure parks just as its tourism season gets under way.
Close to a million jobs were lost just in March, when the lockdown began, and the Bank of Spain has predicted the economy will contract by up to 12% by the end of this year.
Sanchez also said, top flight La Liga soccer, would resume from June 8.
“It is time to make a big noise against the government of unemployment and misery that has abandoned our self-employed and workers,” Vox said. The government claims the lockdown has helped them to control the pandemic.
Restrictions on movement are being gradually eased, as residents of Madrid and Barcelona, both national epicenters of the virus, have remained in lockdown.
Both cities will loosen their curbs from Monday, allowing outdoor dining and gatherings of up to 10 people.
“We’re sending everyone a message today: Spain will be waiting for you from July,” Sanchez said.
Spain has documented more than 28,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 230,000 cases, and Sanchez also said there would be a 10-day period of national mourning for victims starting on Tuesday.