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In scenes akin to New Year's Eve celebrations, impromptu street fiestas erupted across Spain as a six-month state of emergency, imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, ended.
Hundreds of young people across Spain danced in the streets as the clock struck midnight on Saturday, celebrating the end of a six-month-long national state of emergency.
With COVID-19 infection rates stabilizing and progress in the vaccination drive, most of Spain's 17 regions were able to relax coronavirus restrictions.
Scenes of unmasked dancing and group singing in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square resembled pre-pandemic nightlife. Police had to usher revelers out.
In Barcelona, police also had to move people on after the last curfew began at 10 p.m. but let them back at midnight when it ended for good. Revelers headed to the beach with drinks in hand.
The decision mainly allows Spaniards to travel between regions for the first time in months.
Local restaurants and bars will also be able to stay open until 11 p.m. However, a limit of four people per table remains and indoor dining is limited to 30% capacity.
While intra-regional travel bans have ended and curfews lifted, not all of the restrictions are being relaxed.
Regions can still restrict opening hours and impose capacity limits in bars and restaurants.
They can also seek court approval for stricter measures such as reimposing curfews, capping the number allowed at home gatherings or extending a ban on internal travel.
Only four regions are keeping the curfew: the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Navarra and Valencia.
The state of emergency provided the nation's 17 regional governments — responsible for health care — with a legal framework to impose measures that limited freedoms.
The restrictions included nighttime curfews or a ban on non-essential travel between regions.
Except for a few days over Christmas when the restrictions were lifted, people have not been able to travel to other regions, go on holiday, or see family.
Spain has been one of Europe's hardest-hit nations during the pandemic, with nearly 79,000 deaths and 3.5 million infections.
fb/mm (AFP, AP, Reuters)