OVIEDO, Spain

After Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Sunday Spain would be opening borders with Europe sooner than expected, the country’s Health Ministry confirmed 323 new COVID-19 cases.

The number of total confirmed cases in Spain now sits at 243,928. On Saturday, just 48 people tested positive for the infectious disease — one of the lowest daily numbers since early March.

The total number of official fatalities remains frozen at 27,136, as it has all week, though the Health Ministry says 26 people have died from COVID-19 in the past seven days.

Sanchez announced in a televised speech that Spain will open its borders with other European Union countries in the Schengen Area on June 21. The government had previously set the date for July 1. Only land borders with Portugal will remain controlled through June.

From June 21, travelers arriving in Spain will also no longer be required to quarantine for two weeks.

After July 1, Sanchez said borders will be opened to the rest of the world, though the government will devise a list of countries that will still be banned from sending non-essential travelers.

Sanchez explained that the country’s epidemiological situation and whether or not it welcomes Spanish travelers will be two determining factors when deciding which countries will be approved.

Even before July 21, Spain will welcome its first international tourists on Monday as part of a pilot program that will bring German visitors to the Balearic Islands for the first time in months.

And even though there are no foreign tourists yet, good weather this weekend brought out throngs of Spanish residents to the sea.

Images of tightly packed beaches in Barcelona, where it was the first weekend people were allowed to sunbathe, appeared to be taken from a pre-pandemic time.

On Saturday evening, however, local authorities closed the city’s beaches after capacity surpassed 80% and social distancing became impossible.

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