As Spaniards got their first real taste of freedom this weekend, hundreds of them got arrested and thousands were fined – MarketWatch

It takes a lot to keep a Spaniard at home.

Even when bombs were falling on the Madrid streets during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the streets would fill up as soon as the all-clear sounded, sending people back to their beloved plazas and avenidas. So when Spain loosened up coronavirus restrictions over the weekend, allowing adults an hour a day to exercise, people here in Madrid took full advantage.

As the coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death rates have mercifully slowed, one of Europes strictest lockdowns has been eased. After weeks in which only one adult could go out of the house at a time for food and medicine, with kids allowed out a week ago, there is now a full schedule according to which everyone can get fresh air.

Saturday morning marked the inaugural of the 6to10 a.m. exercise shift for adults, and by 9 a.m. Madrids sidewalks parks remain closed were jammed. Two adults from the same household may go out together, which remains strict for a country whose citizens have been starved of human contact, particularly those who live alone. Rules are looser for Spanish towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

The later exercise shift of 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. kids can go out from 12 to 7 p.m., with elderly people allowed the 10 a.m.tonoon hours and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. slots was even more populous. To the untrained eye it looked like a spontaneous fiesta, with many spilling onto the roads, and groups of two morphing into three and more, several lounging on the grass in front of the Royal Palace. Even a kiss hello between two pals was witnessed.

The looser rules proved too great a temptation for frustrated young people, with reports of dozens of parties across the capital city Saturday evening. The Interior Ministry announced 119 arrests and 16,490 fines on Saturday across Spain, with 116 arrested and 20,272 fined on Sunday. The grip remains so tight here that police stopped three people ambling across Plaza Mayor on Saturday evening as they shouted through a loudspeaker to tell everyone to keep moving no sitting.

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These outings may be the highlight of the day for some as the country faces a painful downturn that looks set to bring the unemployment rate to 19% this year, according to a government estimate (the International Monetary Fund has pinned its forecast two percentage points higher, as El Pas reported).

A Twitter post, perhaps mindful of the dire outlook, fired back at the penalties being meted out by authorities for lockdown violations, saying: If you think youre going to fix this with fines, then lets do it:

Thanks to the thousands of young people who went out in Madrid, another tweet carped sarcastically. Without your fines, the economy would have collapsed:

If there is one perk for partially liberated adults, many of whom now again face an uncertain economic future less than a decade after la crisis, its that the air is clean even if you cant fully enjoy it through the face masks donned by almost everyone and mandatory on public transport. Ecologistas en Accin, a confederation of ecological groups in Spain, reported a 58% reduction in air pollution in the country between March 14 and April 30.

Read:La Liga taking steps to get players back on pitch in Spain

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As Spaniards got their first real taste of freedom this weekend, hundreds of them got arrested and thousands were fined - MarketWatch

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