Spain is attempting to revive its crashed economy as Madrid and Barcelona enter the early phases of a staged recovery on Monday, which permits social gatherings in limited numbers, restaurant and bar service (only outdoors), and some social and sports activities, reported Bloomberg.
Oscar Fernandez, a restaurant operator in Madrid, said he served his first patrons in nearly two months on Monday afternoon amid virus lockdowns.
"Since we're a family business, every moment we're shut is lost income," said Fernandez, adding that customers were wearing masks and tables were spaced apart that met social distancing rules. He said, "our only employee is still off work with coronavirus."
Fernandez said strict social distancing rules had slashed his operating capacity by 50%. As a result, he must now serve customers from 6 am to 11 pm, a four extension to regular operating hours to make up for lost sales.
Besides mask-wearing, social distancing separated tables and an abundance of hand-sanitizer, he said the most disturbing thing is that some of his elderly customers died because of the virus.
"We are also a little sad today, as we have lost two of our more elderly regular customers," Fernandez said. "They used to come every day but now they have left us."
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has implemented a phased reopening of the economy that will allow it to recover while potentially prevent future transmission of the virus.
Madrid and Barcelona entered the second phase of the recovery on Monday, which allows for gatherings of up to ten people, smaller shops to reopen, religious services, and limited capacity at gyms. The third phase is already underway in Spain's northern Atlantic coastline, the Canary Islands, and the Andalusia region, allowing shopping malls, beaches, and restaurants to reopen.
Spain's Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said Monday, foreign tourists could be allowed back as soon as July. Maroto's comments come as the country is starting to ease restrictions, but fears of a second coronavirus wave are already materializing in other parts of Europe.
Dr. Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview that the pandemic is not over and countries lifting lockdown restrictions is now the "time for preparation, not celebration".
Several weeks ago a tit-for-tat border dispute between Spain and France unfolded as both countries could soon impose quarantines on travelers. We outlined how Europe would be rather difficult to reopen, despite Brussells calling for "free movement and cross-border travel" to restart the tourism industry on the continent.
Mask-wearing at bars and restaurants with limited capacity only suggests that there will be no V-shaped recovery in Europe's economy this year.