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Spain to reopen to international tourists, Madrid locals welcome lockdown easing

Residents in Spain's biggest cities are gearing up for an easing in their lockdowns from Monday.

People in the capital Madrid and second city Barcelona will be allowed to dine outdoors and have gatherings of up to ten people as infections slow.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT IRENE FERNANDEZ, SAYING:

"We all cannot wait to go outside, but we know we must be responsible and behave in a civil manner so I think it will be great."

Spain started phasing out one of Europe's toughest lockdowns earlier this month.

But full restrictions had remained in Madrid and Barcelona where the outbreaks were more severe.

In other regions, which account for about half of Spain's population, the lockdown restrictions will be relaxed even further.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday the country will open to international tourism from July.

Summer tourism is a major earner here, as well as in Greece and Italy, whose picturesque Amalfi coast is preparing for the possibility of tourists post-lockdown.

Italy was one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Lockdown measures are easing there but Italians are still not allowed to travel outside their region and foreign travel has ground to a halt.