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Phase Three brings relief as travel is permitted around Andalucía

Rail passengers queue to have their ID checked on arrival at Malaga'a María Zambrano station.
Rail passengers queue to have their ID checked on arrival at Malaga'a María Zambrano station. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Malaga and Granada provinces went into the next phase of lockdown easing on Monday, keeping up with the rest of the region

There was a notable increase in activity this week as Malaga province, along with the rest of Andalucía, moved into Phase Three of coronavirus lockdown easing on Monday.

Major transport hubs came back to life. with inter-provincial routes operating at a higher frequency as people took advantage of the opportunity to visit relatives or take a break elsewhere in Andalucía for the first time since lockdown was enforced.

Most of these trips would have been planned at the last minute, however, as it was only on Saturday that the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, announced that travel would be permitted throughout Andalucía from Monday.

All eight provinces being in Phase Three of lockdown easing was the condition set by the Junta de Andalucía for allowing movement across provincial borders.

This was met on Friday when central government's Health Minister, Salvador Illa, said that Malaga and Granada would move up a phase, despite being a week behind their neighbours in the "unlocking" process.

Many Andalusians from landlocked provinces such as Cordoba and Seville made the most of their first opportunity in months to head for the seaside.

Meanwhile Seville city resident Charo Adorna was among the first "non-essential" passengers arriving in Malaga by train on Monday morning. "I've come to see my daughter and granddaughter who live in Benalmádena," she explained, emotionally, "After all this time without seeing them."

The first trains pulling into Malaga station on Monday morning also brought the Costa del Sol's first tourists from outside the province and with them good news for the local economy.

"I've come as soon as I could; I was desperate to get to the beach," said María, as she arrived from Cordoba, explaining that she was going to stay a few days in a hotel.

Traffic on the roads around the province of Malaga increased by 30 per cent in Monday, partly due to more workers starting back at the office after weeks of home-working as well as to the lifting of restrictions of movement.

More businesses open

Many bars and restaurants chose this week to reopen after lockdown. In Phase Three they are able to increase overall capacity, both indoors and out.

This was one step back to normality for workers such as María Parra, who for the last 16 years has started her day with coffee and toast, seated at the bar of the same cafeteria. "I come by myself and it's faster at the bar," she said, resuming her routine on Monday.

Other businesses permitted to open for the first time in Phase Three range from gyms to casinos, all with limited capacity.

Phase Three comes with the return of much of the powers taken over by central government when it declared the state of alarm.

Management of lockdown easing is among these and the Junta de Andalucía has already overruled Madrid's permission for nightclubs to open in Phase Three to a third capacity and with no dancing.

"The Junta doesn't think it's advisable for nightclubs to open" until the end of all phases of lockdown easing, said regional government spokesman Elías Bendodo, this week.

As well as permitting inter-provincial movement, the Junta de Andalucía has also used its devolved powers to increase the capacity of bar interiors in this phase from the 50% decreed by Madrid to 66% (two thirds).