Street parties celebrate end of Spain's state of emergency

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People crowded and dance on the beach in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 9, 2021. Barcelona residents were euphoric as the clock stroke midnight, ending a six-month-long national state of emergency and consequently, the local curfew. Spain is relaxing overall measures to contain the coronavirus this weekend, allowing residents to travel across regions, but some regional chiefs are complaining that a patchwork of approaches will replace the six-month-long national state of emergency that ends at midnight on Saturday. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

BARCELONA – Impromptu street celebrations erupted across Spain as the clock struck midnight on Saturday, when a six-month-long national state of emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus ended and many nighttime curfews were lifted.

In Madrid, police had to usher revelers out of the central Puerta del Sol square, where the scenes of unmasked dancing and group singing mimicked pre-pandemic nightlife.

Teenagers and young adults also poured into central squares and beaches of Barcelona to mark the relaxation of restrictions.

“Freedom!” said Juan Cadavid, who was reconnecting with friends. “(It’s) a bit scary, you know, because of COVID, but I want to feel like this around a lot of people.”

The 25-year-old Barcelona resident was also rejoicing at the prospect of going back to work at a Michelin-star restaurant that has been closed for the past seven months due to pandemic-related restrictions.

Local restaurants will be able to serve dinner again beginning Sunday and can stay open until 11 p.m. But a limit of four people per table remains and indoor dining is limited to 30% of capacity.

Police in Madrid said that local law enforcement officers intervened in more than 450 incidents in which restrictions were being flaunted, prompting the Spanish capital's mayor to call the scenes depicted by videos of street parties on social media "deplorable."

“Freedom doesn’t involve holding booze parties in the street because street drinking is not allowed in the city of Madrid,” Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said Sunday, appealing for citizens to behave responsibly.