“Green light! Ants!” Spain’s kids get freedom from lockdown

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A family go for a walk taking their hands along a street of the old city, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, April 27, 2020. On Sunday, children under 14 years old will be allowed to take walks with a parent for up to one hour and within one kilometer from home, ending six weeks of compete seclusion. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

BARCELONA – After six weeks cooped up with 3-year-old twins, mother Susana Sabaté was finally able to release her energy-filled boys onto Spain’s sunny streets.

Spain’s government lifted a home confinement rule for children under 14 years old after 44 days on Sunday, ending one of the most restrictive measures of its national lockdown to rein in a coronavirus outbreak that has claimed over 22,000 lives in the European country. Even Italy, with more deaths than Spain, has not kept its youngsters completely secluded.

“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” the 44-year-old Sabaté said in Barcelona. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”

Sabaté’s sons wore child-size face masks as they went out. She said they were used to seeing both their parents wear them when they went out, so she believed that made it easier to convince them to put them on.

“We will see how long they last!” she said.

Gustavo Tapia, Sabaté husband, said that taking sons Tomás and Zacarías for a stroll in the neighborhood was a joy.

“It was as if we had rediscovered the street,” Tapia said. “They were really excited to see things that they had grown accustomed to seeing before. For example, when they saw a streetlight they started shouting ‘Green! Green!’ They also loved seeing ants and other insects.”

Spain’s 5.8 million children under 14 years old are now allowed to take walks once a day, accompanied by a parent for up to one hour and within a kilometer of home. Many children took out their bikes and scooters.