Phase One kicks off with coffee and churros


Open for business in Malaga's Soho district. / JUAN SOTO

  • Residents in Malaga province have been able to have breakfast on a pavement terrace for the first time in 64 days

The smell of fresh coffee and churros returned to pavements and squares around Malaga on Monday morning as the province moved in to Phase One of Spain's plan to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Numerous cafeterias began serving coffee for the first time in 64 days, observing the regulations imposed by the authorities.

Breakfast merged into beer, wine and tapas as lunchtime approached while some customers headed straight for the beach bars to satisfy their craving for traditional fried fish and sardines by the sea.

In Phase One bars, restaurants and cafeterias are only able to serve customers at tables on terraces outside the premises, reducing previous capacity by 50 per cent. Tables must be arranged to allow a distance of two metres between them.


Traditional commerce - Vela watch shop in Marbella. / CHARO MÁRQUEZ

Customers from now on will also have to get used to new health and safety requirements. Staff waiting on tables are equipped with gloves, masks and in many cases face shields. Traditional elements previously shared by customers, such as paper napkin holders and olive oil bottles, can no longer be found on the tables. And after customers leave, the tables and chairs are thoroughly cleaned before the next customers can sit down.

Despite the easing of restrictions on Monday, many bars and shops decided to keep their shutters down, at least for the initial few days of Phase One.

In Malaga city only around 20 per cent of establishments opened their terraces, but the one that did open were full by lunchtime.

The owner of Casa Lola in the city's Plaza Uncibay, Daniel Gumpert, said he was happy with the day's business despite having lost ten tables compared to the bar's previous capacity. "The important thing is that customers feel safe and want to come back," he said.


Garum Motor car showroom back in action. / IGNACIO LILLO

There was little activity on Monday morning in Marbella's normally bustling Plaza de los Naranjos, as bars and shops remained closed with no tourists to serve. This was in contrast to other more residential neighbourhoods in the Costa town, where pavement terraces and restaurants were open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This pattern was repeated in other tourist resorts.

Small shops and businesses were also been able to open this week without customers being obliged to make an appointment first. Large businesses, such as car showrooms and stores, have reopened but with just a section of their space open to the public.

High street names such as Mango, Zara, Decathlon and Pull&Bear opened their doors, the larger premises cordoning off an area of 400 metres to comply with regulations.