People walk past the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum after its reopening in the Spanish Basque city of Bilbao on June 1, 2020 as the country loosens a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Ander Gillenea)
Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum was Spain's first large museum to reopen its doors as the country further loosened its lockdown on Monday, with 70 percent of the country enjoying beaches and restaurants.
The titanium-clad museum, a landmark in the Basque city due to its curvy exterior designed by architect Frank Gehry, was opened on a reduced schedule of five hours which will continue throughout June, its website said.
All museums across Spain have been shuttered since the government declared a state of emergency in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 27,000 lives in the country.
With the numbers of new cases and deaths slowing, Spain began a gradual, staged transition out of the lockdown which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hopes will be completed by July 1.
During the rollback period, museums can reopen to visitors at between 30 to 50 percent of their normal capacity.
But some of the biggest museums, such as Madrid's Prado and the Reina Sofia, have delayed their reopening until June 6.
By Monday, much of the population was enjoying the second phase of the rollback under which beaches and restaurants could open, along with cinemas, theaters and shopping centers, although with limited capacity.
Also Monday, several smaller islands in the Canaries and the Balearics entered the third and final phase during which bars could fully reopen along with casinos, zoos and other entertainment venues.
The Madrid region and the city of Barcelona, along with Castile-Leon in the north-west, are still in phase one in which only bar and restaurant terraces are open along with smaller shops and libraries.
In this phase, hotels are also allowed to open but not their communal areas.
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