As Malaga province entered Phase One of the government's lockdown easing plan on Monday, new freedoms came into effect for athletes of all abilities.
In addition to the individual sports permitted in Phase Zero (running, cycling, surfing etc), Phase One allows sports centres to reopen provided that the activity takes place in the open air and that it doesn't involve physical contact between players.
This came as particularly good news for tennis and padel players, golfers and track athletes but not everyone is able to return to fields or courts just yet.
Tennis clubs reopen
Tennis clubs are now allowed to open, albeit by appointment only and just for singles matches (which is limiting for older players, though there is no age limit).
The rules to follow are clear. Those who come to play, whether federated or not, must be wearing a mask on arrival. Masks can be removed once on court but must be worn again as they leave.
Under no circumstances will the changing rooms and shower areas be opened to users. Outside of the reserved playing time, players will not be allowed to remain in the facility. There should be 15-minute slots between reservations to allow cleaning of certain surfaces to take place.
Clubs are expected to keep note of reservations in case of inspections and put up signs informing players of the different rules and regulations.
There is still a question mark, however, over what will happen to certain tennis facilities which form part of hotels (of which there are many on the western Costa del Sol) that will remain closed.
The regulations surrounding padel are very similar to those of tennis. Nowadays this sport is hugely popular and therefore almost as many padel courts exists as tennis courts in the area.
Clubs can reopen under the same conditions though, in the case of padel, the inability to play in pairs goes against the standard rules of the sport.
In both tennis and padel, the use of new balls is recommended, as is using as few as possible in order to reduce potential surface contamination.
What’s more, players are warned not to touch their face after handling a ball, in addition to observing the now common hygiene practices after the session, as well as not rewearing their sports clothes without washing them first.
With regards to athletics, the picture is a little more varied. While athletics facilities are allowed to open, not all of them have (including the Ciudad de Málaga and UMA facilities) and some have chosen only to open for high-performance athletes (as is the case in Nerja). Various clubs are also choosing to wait another week to avoid the pent-up demand.
The Carranque sports complex in Malaga city, run by the Junta de Andalucía, as well as several private athletics clubs opened on Monday for individual training sessions (with corresponding trainer if necessary). At Carranque, time slots (1.5 hours) must be reserved (federated athletes in the afternoon and anyone else in the morning).
Once inside, the use of hydroalcoholic gel and wipes is strongly encouraged to clean any individual training equipment while running can only take place if a distance of ten metres is maintained between athletes.
The Costa del Golf returns
Around 90 per cent of the province’s golf clubs reopened on Monday. Those that didn’t are those that rely most heavily on foreign visitors.
The guidelines in place are similar to those previously mentioned with play only allowed with a prior reservation. In the specific case of golf, up to four people can play but they must keep their distance, one person is allowed per buggy, trolleys must be disinfected and ball cleaners and even the flags cannot be touched.
In addition, the club house and changing rooms are not allowed to open and the cleaning of clubs and shoes is not permitted.
When it comes to Phase Two, the regulations are less clear. It is expected that swimming and other yet-to-be-defined “low-risk” sports will be allowed but this is yet to be finalised and will depend a lot on individual town halls.
Gyms are set to reopen in Phase Three (with adaptations required) while contact sports such as football or basketball are unlikely to be allowed until Spain enters its “new normal” - at the end of June at the earliest.