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18 May, 2020 12:05

70 percent of Spain emerges from lockdown amid large protests calling for govt to resign (VIDEOS)

As the majority of Spain cautiously re-emerges from lockdown, disgruntled sections of the citizenry have taken to the streets to protest the government’s perceived bid to leverage the coronavirus crisis to stay in power.

On Sunday the country’s daily death toll dropped below 100 for the first time since it imposed lockdown restrictions on March 15. Adopting a staggered approach since last week, Spain then began its four-phase system for reopening its economy.  

As of Monday, some 70 percent of the country is now in phase one, which allows for gatherings of up to 10 people with adequate social distancing, bars and restaurants reopening their outdoor sections at half capacity, and cinemas, museums and other cultural businesses also reopened, though at reduced capacity.

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However, Barcelona, Madrid and northwestern areas of the country remain at Phase Zero, with most restrictions still in place, but small shops being allowed to open and funerals with attendance of up to 25 people also allowed. 

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will ask parliament to extend the country's state of emergency until the end of June, which many have seen as a bid to use the coronavirus crisis as a means to retain power.

Judging by eyewitness videos taken at protests across the country, social distancing norms and gathering limits were not adhered to, as Spaniards voiced their frustration and anger, calling not only for the prime minister’s resignation, but for that of his entire cabinet.

In striking images, some even hung large banners depicting Sanchez as some sort of dictator, with the word “Obey” emblazoned underneath him, in a nod to the viral work of  American contemporary street artist Frank Shepard Fairey.

In addition, the Spanish cabinet is expected to approve a basic income to help the country's poorest recover economically from the coronavirus and ensuing lockdown, with some 100,000 households expected to receive a stipend in the initial phase of the stimulus package. 

The vote on the estimated €3-billion annual payment is expected to be held on May 26, Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva said on Monday.

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