First bathers hit the beaches and shopping centres open as the Costa del Sol moves into Phase Two

Beach users on Monday morning.
Beach users on Monday morning. / I. lILLO
  • Bars and restaurants can now serve tables inside their premises and time limitations for exercise have been relaxed

The province of Malaga woke up on Monday to a new month and a new phase in the Spanish government's plan to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Malaga and Granada have now caught up with the other six Andalusian provinces in terms of lockdown easing, which had already been in Phase Two for a week.

Isa Taseva, the first to put her towel down on La Malagueta.

Isa Taseva, the first to put her towel down on La Malagueta. / I. LILLO

Restrictions have now been relaxed in a number of areas. Beaches on the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical have reopened to bathers - until now it was only permitted to use beaches for individual sports and walks - and the first sun umbrellas and towels appearedon the sand.

There was plenty of room on Monday morning to allow social distancing although more beach users were expected as the day progressed. Town councils have announced measures including mobile apps and Local Police patrols to help enforce the government's rule of two metres between bathers.

Bulgarian-born Isa Taseva was the first person to arrive on Malaga's Malagueta beach on Monday morning with the intention of sunbathing, rather than walking or running, putting her sunshade up at 8am.

Early morning bathers in Malaga.

Early morning bathers in Malaga. / ÑITO SALAS

"We've been stuck indoors for a long time, my flat is quite dark and I needed some sunshine; I was longing to come to the beach," said Taseva, who has been in Malaga for two decades and works at the popular Cortijo de Pepe restaurant in the Plaza de la Merced.

Other restrictions relaxed in Phase Two involve the use of the interiors of bars and restaurants. Until now only establishments with terraces had been allowed to open, but from Monday bars can serve tables inside, with a reduced capacity to allow social distancing.

Breakfast inside a cafeteria in Alhaurín de la Torre.

Breakfast inside a cafeteria in Alhaurín de la Torre. / ANDREA JIMÉNEZ

This meant that many bars and cafeterias had preferred to wait until Phase Two to open for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

Shopping centres have also been allowed to reopen this week, although common seating areas and children's play facilities are still out of use.

In Marbella's La Cañada centre shoppers got used to new rules on Monday morning, with capacity limitations and markers on the floor to ensure distancing in queues. Some, but not all, shops had reopened, however.

Meanwhile queues formed outside El Corte Inglés in Malaga, allowed to open fully for the first time.

Phase Two means that restrictions have been relaxed concerning exercise. There are no more time slots to respect, except for the times reserved for the over-70s, which remain at 10am to 12 pm and 7pm to 8pm.

Some of the first shoppers in La Cañada.

Some of the first shoppers in La Cañada. / CHARO MÁRQUEZ

Families and individuals can now go out for walks with no limitations of one hour a day and one kilometre from their homes.

Other changes in Phase Two allow cemeteries to open to the public and gatherings can now be organised for up to 15 people (in Phase One it was ten).

Other restrictions already in force in Phase One remain in place. Movement is still restricted to within the province and transport in vehicles is permitted with masks and two people per row of seats if not all members of the same household.

The use of face masks is still compulsory in enclosed areas and where a minimum distance of two metres cannot be guaranteed.