The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid. REUTERS

Spain lifted on Tuesday a ban on direct flights and ships from Italy imposed since March 11 to curb the coronavirus, but tourism restrictions and a 14-day quarantine for inbound travellers remained in place.

A much-reduced death rate from COVID-19 has encouraged Spain to begin easing one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, but the tourism-dependent economy is likely to have to wait until late June to welcome holidaymakers back.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is preparing to ask parliament to extend until late June a state of emergency which has helped limit infections but also brought unprecedented restrictions on borders and movement, causing huge economic damage.

Cadena Ser radio reported that cabinet would use a meeting on Tuesday to discuss an extension until June 27. A government spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

At the peak of the outbreak, Spain was losing hundreds of citizens a day as stretched hospitals and care homes struggled to treat patients.

But the overnight death toll reported on Monday was 59, the lowest in two months, bringing the known total to 27,709.

The United States, United Kingdom, Italy and France have all reported more fatalities than Spain.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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