MADRID, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Spain's Minister for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare, Salvador Illa, on Friday confirmed that several of the country's regions would be able to further relax the restrictions that have been in place since the imposition of a State of Alarm on March 14 to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Also on Friday, Illa's ministry said that Spain had registered no new coronavirus deaths for the fifth consecutive day.
In a televised press conference, Illa explained that all of the Valencian autonomous community in the east of Spain, along with much of central Spain and parts of Catalonia, would be able to move into the final Phase 3 of Spain's four-phase plan to ease the restrictions.
They join the 52 percent of Spaniards who live in the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Murcia, Extremadura, Galicia, Cantabria, the Basque Region, Navarra, and the Canary and Balearic Islands. They moved into Phase 3 on June 8.
Meanwhile, Galicia in northwest Spain will move beyond Phase 3 into what has been defined as the "new normality," that will exist in the country until there is an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.
"Galicia has asked to pass into the new normality and as the region was in Phase 3, it is going to move into that phase," commented Illa, who said the region had "benefited from the State of Alarm, which meant the epidemic didn't develop there as it did in other territories."
Illa explained that the regions of Madrid, the Barcelona metropolitan area and other parts of the country currently in Phase 2 would progress a week later. He said that the State of Alarm would expire on June 21 and a day later "new normality will be in effect in all of the country," allowing free movement between regions again.
Due to its regional economic and geographical diversity, Spain's emergence from the lockdown has been "asymmetrical" with some regions progressing faster than others, as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has explained.
On June 9, Sanchez's cabinet agreed that some of the measures, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks, the need to maintain social distancing or the obligation for employers to provide sanitary equipment would remain in place in the "new normality."
According to the Health Ministry, 27,136 people have died from COVID-19 in Spain, with 25 people losing their lives to the virus in the past seven days.
The ministry also reported 155 new COVID-19 cases (against 156 a day earlier), taking the total number to 243,209.