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Spain brings forward reopening of borders to Schengen area

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People enjoy the warm weather on the beach in Barcelona, Spain
People enjoy the warm weather on the beach in Barcelona, Spain   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
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Spain will reopen its borders with Schengen zone countries on 22 June - except for its border with Portugal.

The Spain-Portugal border will instead be opened on 1 July.

The decision was announced on Sunday by Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez, at the weekly video conference with regional presidents that have been held since the coronavirus outbreak.

As cases and deaths decreased, Spain has been slowly removing the strict measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

The lifting of borders to travel from EU countries was previously planned for 1 July, but has been brought forward, as Spain joins a number of its European neighbours in attempting to reinvigorate an economy that has been hard-hit by the pandemic.

The EU Commission has recommended a lifting of internal border controls in the Schengen area from 15 June, and as of that date many restrictions are being lifted across the continent.

Spain is one of Europe's hardest-hit countries, with nearly 250,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and more than 27,000 deaths.

It introduced strict lockdown measures in March as its health systems became overwhelmed with the number of coronavirus cases. Those measures included closing the borders to foreign travellers.

A pilot programme allowing foreign travellers to visit the Balearic Islands starts tomorrow, and this will give the government a better idea of how its safety protocols are functioning.