Spain’s streets were filled with people dancing and hugging as the country celebrated the end of its six month state of emergency.
“Freedom” was sung as people partied on the city streets and beaches, but there were fears that the restrictions on the coronavirus had been lifted too soon.
Hundreds of mostly young people gathered in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square to cheer when the clock struck midnight over the weekend.
In Barcelona, night owls dismounted on the beach to mark the moment when the barrier edges finally came to an end.
Some wore masks, but there was little social distance as friends kissed, hugged, danced, and sang together.
28-year-old saleswoman Paula Garcia on Barcelona Beach said: “Young people, like everyone else, were very limited.
“Now it was time to give us a little bit of freedom to enjoy a little bit of summer.”
“It was time they let us out,” said 25-year-old shop clerk Andreu Pujol, also on the beach in Barcelona.
“Even so, I am still very unhappy with how they are dealing (with the pandemic). You can see that in this country all they do is make things up while they go on.”
But in the Basque Country, where authorities requested curfew but were dismissed by a court last week, some locals were less excited.
“It is very bad that there is no state of emergency,” said Asun Lasa, walking along the coast of San Sebastian on Sunday.
“People want to go out, but the situation is not ready for it.”
The Basque Country recorded the highest infection rate in Spain at 448 per 100,000, compared to a national average of 199.
Social media videos from large groups that paid little attention to distancing were criticized by some on Sunday.
“Freedom does not include breaking the rules,” said Madrid’s conservative mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, stressing that gatherings for drinking in the street, known as “botellone”, are forbidden.
During the pandemic, Spain suffered 78,792 coronavirus deaths and 3.6 million cases.
But infection rates have fallen and vaccinations are advancing rapidly, allowing most of its 17 regions to lift curfew.
Only four regions held it: the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Navarra and Valencia.
While the curfew has been lifted, most regions have limited bar and restaurant opening times and forced people to take to the streets.