Barcelona reopens beaches for sports

Barcelona (AFP) - Barcelona on Friday reopened its beaches, closed as part of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown imposed in Spain in mid-March, but only to allow people to exercise between 6:00 am and 10:00 am.

With the sun shining and temperatures nearing 20 degrees Celsius, dozens of people woke up early to jog, swim, paddle on boards or surf on the Mediterranean city's beaches.

"It's to practise individual sports...We can't go for a walk, sit down, have a picnic," said Barcelona city councillor Eloi Badia.

At the Barceloneta beach, one of the city's most popular, some people bent the rules, such as a young man who meditated on the sand as the sun rose.

The arrival of police prompted the few people who were not exercising on the beach to leave, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Spain's second-largest city was following the lead of other cities which have already reopened their beaches for excercise, such as San Sebastian in the north and Valencia in the east.

Spain's daily death toll from the coronavirus rose to 229 on Friday, up slightly from 213 on the previous day, bringing the overall toll on one of the world's hardest-hit countries to 26,299.

Since March 14 Spain's 47 million people have lived under drastic lockdown measures although they have eased gradually over the last two weeks.

Since April 26, children under 14 have been allowed one hour of supervised outdoor activity near their home and a week later adults started being allowed out for walks or exercise during certain hours.

The government expects its four-phase transition out of the lockdown to be completed by the end of June, with beaches only expected to be open fully during this final phase.