KEY POINTS

  • Spain has lifted its state of emergency after six months
  • Many revelers waited for the clock to strike midnight to celebrate the lifting of curfew
  • Hundreds partied in streets and beaches, some without masks
  • People are still being urged to not let their guard down

Hundreds of people took to the streets across Spain to celebrate the lifting of the COVID-19 curfew, creating scenes that resembled New Year's Eve celebrations.

The state of emergency that has been in place in Spain since October finally ended at midnight on Saturday. For much of the country's population, this meant lifting the measures that restricted movement at nighttime and between regions.

Spain was among Europe's hardest-hit nations amid the pandemic, Reuters reported, adding that its infection rates have now fallen. As of May 10, the country has logged 3,567,408 cases and 78,792 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

In 13 of the 17 Spanish regions, the 11 p.m. curfew that was in place for months was lifted at midnight. In a scene resembling a New Year's Eve party, hundreds of people waited for the clock to strike midnight and partied in the streets in several Spanish cities, CNN reported. Crowded celebrations were also observed at Barcelona beaches and in the streets of the capital, Madrid.

The revelers chanted "freedom" as they danced, sang, and partied with drinks in their hands, Reuters reported, noting that the crowds were composed of "mainly young people."

"Young people, like everyone else, have been very restricted," Paula Garcia, a shop worker and one of the people on a Barcelona beach, was quoted as saying by Reuters. "Now was time to give us a bit of freedom to enjoy a little of the summer."

Such parties, however, still violate the mandate that restricts gatherings of more than six people. Many of the attendees were not wearing masks or observing any social distancing, with some people seen hugging and kissing.

In footage from Puerta del Sol in Madrid, for instance, a crowd of revelers can be seen dancing rather closely together.

A photo also shows a large crowd of people on the beach, some of whom can be seen wearing masks while others are not.

While many were celebrating the easing of some restrictions, others expressed their concerns. For instance, Natalia Pardo Lorente, a biomedical researcher at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, told CNN that "large groups" were already out drinking after 10 p.m. on Friday night when the curfew was still in place.

"I am a bit worried, although the most vulnerable people are already vaccinated, I think we should still be careful of the cases increasing again," she told CNN. Even some residents were concerned that the easing of the restrictions was premature, Reuters reported, while authorities also warned people not to let their guards down.

Last week, Health Ministry's emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, urged the population to "not get the wrong impression" about the lifting of the state of emergency.

The state of emergency had prevented non-essential travel between regions The state of emergency had prevented non-essential travel between regions Photo: AFP / Cesar Manso