- Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates
- Words by ITV News Producer Natasha Tierney
This weekend will be an exciting one for Spanish children.
After six weeks inside, on Sunday they will finally be allowed out of their homes for the first time since March 14, having endured one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
They can only walk on the street with their parents – parks and playgrounds are still very much closed – but it’s a sign that finally, Spain looks like it’s coming out the other side of its virus battle.
Today the Spanish government announced that lockdown measures will be extended again, this time until May 9. There is a sense of cautious optimism though that the virus might finally be coming under control.
The infection rate is gradually slowing but the daily death toll remains stubbornly around 400.
Today the health ministry recorded another 435 deaths in the past 24 hours, but for the country with the world’s third highest recorded number of fatalities – only the US and Italy have more – it’s at last movement in the right direction.
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An ITV News team filmed in the town of Igualada earlier this week. Much like Bergamo in Italy, this town to the northwest of Barcelona became the ‘ground zero’ of Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, and at one point had Europe’s highest death toll per head of population.
The early infection rate here was so high, the Catalan government was forced to blockade the roads to the town from the rest of the region, leaving its citizens in a lockdown – within a national lockdown.
When our team spoke to local funeral homes in the area, the scale of death here became apparent. A funeral director told us he was used to receiving five bodies a day, but at the peak of the virus was receiving more than 30, for days on end, working 20 hour shifts and performing ceremonies late at night, such was the demand.
It’s clear from all the people we spoke to, that this is a town that has suffered the worst of this pandemic – everyone there knows someone who died. For the Mayor of Igualada now though, the biggest concern is no longer the spread of the virus.
Marc Castells, Mayor of Igualada, said: “Right now our main concern is economic recovery – what we call the tsunami after the tsunami.
“We’re worried that this paralysis could mean that our economy is very badly impacted, so we’re asking for help to restart our industries.
“We now need to put our focus on the economic crisis which will arrive after the health emergency.”
Much like the rest of Spain, Igualada has many challenges to deal with ahead, though the worst of the outbreak itself at least, here seems to have passed.
Coronavirus: Everything you need to know