Hundreds of people joined street parties in various Spain cities during the early hours of Sunday, celebrating that the country ended its 11:00 p.m. curfew in 13 of the 17 regions where it was imposed.
Images of people taking to the beaches of Barcelona and the streets of Madrid were seen on social networks.
They celebrated the end of Spain’s six-month state of emergency, decreed as a measure to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Although COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, many people did not wear a mask or respect social distancing and gathered in groups larger than six.
Police officers deployed to stand guard as people packed Barcelona’s beach.
A video shot during the last hours of the curfew on Saturday night showed a police van patrolling the area and warning the crowds over a loudspeaker: “It’s forbidden to gather in groups of more than six people, please leave the beach.”
In Madrid, Spain’s capital, the police intervened to expel people from the central Puerta del Sol square, as many gathered there to dance and sing.
Spain’s second state of emergency came into effect last October, following a strict stay-at-home order that was announced when the pandemic started. While they allowed more activity, the measures included a nationwide night curfew and restrictions on social gatherings and domestic travel.
The country has registered 198 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population, but some regions have a higher infection rate and decided to maintain the restrictions.
According to the latest data published on Friday, almost 28% of Spaniards (13.2 million) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 12.6% have been fully vaccinated. Natalia Pardo Lorente, a biomedical researcher at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, told the media: “I am a bit worried, although the most vulnerable people are already vaccinated, I think we should still be careful of the cases increasing again.”
“Even while the curfew was still active Friday, I saw large groups of people drinking in the Ciutadella and it was after 10 at night,” she added.
“Is there really a need to be gathering in groups of 100 people or more in parks? Why is it not enough to meet your close friends and that’s it?” she went on.