Spain’s health ministry said on Wednesday that fans would be allowed to fill soccer stadiums again, the latest step toward a general removal of restrictions after the country’s coronavirus infection rate fell to its lowest level in over a year.
Starting on Friday, stadiums will no longer have to limit the number of spectators at soccer matches and other outdoor events. For indoor stadiums hosting basketball and other competitions, the limit will be 80 percent of capacity.
Fans will still have to wear face masks, including in outdoor stadiums, and a ban on food service remains in place.
The Spanish authorities agreed in August to reopen stadiums after the summer break, but they initially limited capacity to 40 percent for outdoor stadiums and 30 percent indoors. As the pandemic numbers continued to improve — and after the country announced that 70 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated as of the end of August — the stadium capacity thresholds were raised to 60 percent outdoors and 40 percent indoors.
Many of the main restrictions in Spain have now been significantly eased or lifted altogether. In the capital region of Madrid, restaurants and bars were allowed this month to stay open as late as their licenses allow, and shopping malls, cinemas and theaters no longer have to apply limits on capacity.
On Tuesday, Spain registered 2,290 new cases of Covid-19 — its lowest daily number in more than a year. The 14-day infection rate fell to 62 registered cases per 100,000 inhabitants. (The infection rate had reached almost 700 during July, and 400 during August.)
The rate remains above 100 in just two Spanish enclaves in North Africa: Ceuta and Melilla.
Most experts attribute the improvement in Spain to the speeding up of vaccinations. The immunization rate — 77 percent on Tuesday — translates to 36.5 million residents, one of the largest fully inoculated populations in Europe.
And more than 90 percent have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about three-quarters of adolescents.