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Spain predicts high unemployment as it celebrates return to ‘freedom’

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POLITICO reports that unemployment in Spain will reach 19 percent this year and GDP will decline by 9.2 percent due to the coronavirus, according to the government’s most recent forecasts.

Madrid submitted Spain’s new budget stability plan and macroeconomic forecasts to the European Commission on Thursday night, as ministers warned that the coronavirus had “deeply affected” the country’s economic expectations.

Meanwhile joggers and cyclists across Spain emerged from their homes early on Saturday, with adults allowed out for exercise for the first time in seven weeks as the government began easing coronavirus restrictions.

In Barcelona, runners and cyclists crowded paths near the beach, while surfers and paddle-boarders were out enjoying the waves.

Mar Visser, 45, who lost her job as an events organiser, was jogging along the path in Castelldefels, a town near Barcelona.

“I have been longing for this. It beats running in my house or doing yoga or Pilates inside,” she said.

In Madrid, cyclists and skateboarders streamed along the city’s wide boulevards, ducking under police tape set up to prevent people congregating in common areas.

Hit by one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, Spain imposed a strict lockdown in March, confining most of the population to their homes for all but essential trips.

Sports and recreational walks were banned as authorities scrambled to stop the disease from spreading and ease the burden on the stricken healthcare system.

Charlotte Fraser-Prynne, 41, a British government affairs consultant, was among the first to savour the new freedom to exercise – out for a run at 6 a.m. near the city’s Retiro Park.

While the park remained closed, hundreds of people were running on the pavement around it.

“I have been looking forward to this for weeks. I was joking with my friends that I would be the first out in Madrid. I am very happy to be out after six weeks of yoga videos,” she said.

As the rate of infection has fallen and hospitals have regained their footing, the government has shifted its focus towards reopening the country and reviving the economy.

Reuters / El Pais

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