Spanish officials reopened the nation’s borders to tourists from elsewhere in Europe Sunday after a three-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country officially ended a national state of emergency, both allowing residents to travel throughout the nation and removing a requirement that any visitors from Britain or Europe’s Schengen travel zone, which does not require visas, quarantine for 14 days upon a arrival.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned residents to tread lightly even with restrictions lifted to avoid a resurgence.
“The warning is clear,” Sánchez said, according to The Associated Press. “The virus can return and it can hit us again in a second wave, and we have to do whatever we can to avoid that at all cost.”
Tourism is one of Spain’s leading industries, with 80 million tourists a year bringing in about 12 percent of the country’s GDP. Other European economies similarly dependent on tourism such as Italy and Greece have taken comparable steps to slowly reopen.
Spanish officials will take all new arrivals’ temperatures at the airport, with visitors required to disclose whether they have the virus and provide contact details, the BBC reported.
Social distancing measures will remain in place, with citizens required to stay the equivalent of five feet apart in public and wear masks in stores and on public transportation. "We must remain on our guard and strictly follow hygiene and protection measures," Sánchez said, according to the BBC.
The end of the lockdown, and similar steps in other parts of Europe that were once global epicenters, comes as other continents have seen worsening outbreaks. In Brazil, the national Health Ministry reported an increase of more than 50,000 in a day, even as President Jair Bolsonaro has minimized the risk of the virus, and South Africa reported a new single-day high of 4,966 new cases Saturday, according to the AP.