Madrid (CNN)At 6 a.m. local time in Spain, people who have been cooped up in their homes for seven weeks emerged into the early morning light to run, cycle or walk after Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdown restrictions were slightly eased.
After 7 weeks of lockdown, Spaniards can finally exercise outdoors -- as death toll passes 25,000
Parks remain closed in Madrid, so runners and cyclists outside the capital's Retiro park used the broad avenue as a racetrack, occupying lanes normally used for traffic. Some buses and cars had to honk to get them to move over.
The government has insisted people stick to 2-meter or 6-foot social distancing, especially runners and cyclists who are supposed to exercise alone, but CNN observed numerous people bunched together.
At 10:25 a.m. local time, a Madrid municipal van pulled alongside a cyclist and an officer leaned out of the window to shout: "You were supposed to be home a half hour ago. A half hour ago!"
But the police did not stop to issue a fine and drove off.
From today, people older than 14 can take one-hour walks, accompanied by one person, once a day within half a mile of their homes, or do sports like riding a bike alone within their city. They are allowed to do this from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The elderly had their turn a little later, with a special timetable to avoid crowds: from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in the evening, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez posted a message to Twitter on Saturday morning asking Spaniards for caution: "Today we take a new step in the relaxation of confinement but we need to do it with caution and responsibility. The virus is still there. We need to follow the guidelines for hygiene and social distancing," he said.
Spain's government moved to further ease the nation's strict confinement rules due to coronavirus earlier this week. Last weekend, children under 14 were allowed to take one-hour walks daily with their parents.
The government has asked its population to wear masks if they cannot observe strict social distancing.