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Mediterranean tourist spots ease up on virus restrictions

May 25, 2020

With infection rates declining, some European countries are relaxing their coronavirus lockdown measures. Greek ferries have restarted, Italian gyms have reopened and Spanish restaurants can once again serve customers.

A restaurant in Athens
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Tzortzinis

As temperatures rise across Europe, rates of new COVID-19 infections have declined across the continent. That has led to some European countries to relax some of their coronavirus restrictions.

Here is a roundup of how areas of Europe reopened on Monday after spending months in lockdown.

Greece: Citizens have been able to take ferry's to Greece's Aegean islands as the country kicked off its summer holiday season three weeks earlier than expected.

Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries to prevent further COVID-19 infections.

Read more: Germany 'confident' at control of coronavirus outbreak as it relaxes borders

Travel to the islands has been generally off-limits since the pandemic began. The holiday season was not expected to begin until June 15, but because of Greece's low infection rate, the government allowed its citizens not under quarantine to resume ferry travel. Foreign travelers still aren't expected until after June 15.

Meanwhile, restaurants and cafes were allowed to once again welcome customers under new social distancing rules.

An instructor conducts a water gym lesson in the indoor swimming pool of the Forum sports center
Pool users must have a minimum of seven square meters spaceImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Medichini

Italy: Italians have begun to get back into their workout routines after gyms and pools reopened across the country. 

Gym members must always keep a two-meter (six-foot) distance and must disinfect equipment after use. Though masks are required when entering a gym facility, people do not have to wear one while working out.

Pool users must have at least seven square meters of space to themselves and must be one and a half meters away from other swimmers.

Read more: As coronavirus lockdown eases, Italians fear bleak future

Gym and swimming pool operators must also keep a record of who attended for at least two weeks.

Approximately 18 million Italians attend around 8,000 gyms in Italy, according to the Istat statistics institute. Istat reported that a third of Italians had done no exercise during confinement, and citizens gained an average of 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) during the country's two-month lockdown.

Customers wearing protective face masks sit at an outdoor terrace table of a bar and cafe in Madrid
Cafes and restaurants in Madrid may only serve on the outdoor terraces or items for take awayImage: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/J. I. Reino

Spain: Restaurants and bars in Spain's biggest cities, including Barcelona and capital Madrid, reopened on Monday as half the population entered stage one of the government's lockdown easing plans. 

Spaced out outdoor tables were populated with people as servers with masks tended to their customers for the first time in months. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Lifting lockdowns, European countries go their own way

Phase one also allows for social gatherings in limited numbers and some cultural and sporting events. Spanish football clubs are also allowed to conduct training sessions with 10 people, a big step as the top-flight La Liga hopes to return on June 11.

Meanwhile, provinces with fewer infections have relaxed restrictions a bit more, removing outdoor time limits and allowing for meetings of up to 15 people, weddings, and visits to nursing homes and beaches.

dv/rc (AFP, AP)

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