| 11.8°C Belfast

Spain and Portugal reopen land border three months after lockdown

The leaders of both nations toured a Moorish fortress in Spain and a castle in Portugal to mark the reopening.

Close

Spain’s King Felipe VI, left, and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa adjust their face masks during a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Portugal/Spain border in Elvas, Portugal (Armando Franca/AP)

Spain’s King Felipe VI, left, and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa adjust their face masks during a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Portugal/Spain border in Elvas, Portugal (Armando Franca/AP)

Spain’s King Felipe VI, left, and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa adjust their face masks during a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Portugal/Spain border in Elvas, Portugal (Armando Franca/AP)

The leaders of Spain and Portugal marked the reopening of their land border, more than three months after shutting it because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain’s King Felipe VI and prime minister Pedro Sanchez met with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and prime minister Antonio Costa for border ceremonies in Badajoz on the Spanish side and later in Elvas, Portugal.

Wearing masks, which they removed to hear their national anthems played, the Iberian leaders toured a Moorish fortress and museum in Badajoz before visiting a 14th-century castle in Elvas, 12 miles away.

They gave no speeches in Wednesday’s event.

Close

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez, Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Spain’s King Felipe VI (Armando Franca/AP)

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez, Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Spain’s King Felipe VI (Armando Franca/AP)

AP/PA Images

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez, Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Spain’s King Felipe VI (Armando Franca/AP)

Spain has been one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries in the pandemic, with almost 250,000 cases and more than 28,300 deaths.

A strict lockdown enabled Spanish authorities to bring the outbreak under control.

Over the past week it has officially recorded almost 2,000 new cases.

Portugal avoided an exponential increase in cases during April and May, but stubborn outbreaks have occurred in recent weeks after a lockdown ended and several hundred news cases have been emerging every day.

It has recorded 1,576 virus-related deaths.

Close

The border had been closed for three months (Armando Franca/AP)

The border had been closed for three months (Armando Franca/AP)

AP/PA Images

The border had been closed for three months (Armando Franca/AP)

Most worryingly, Portuguese authorities are battling community transmission in 19 of the Lisbon metropolitan area’s 118 parishes, located north of the capital.

Beginning on Wednesday, people living in those parishes must stay at home when they can and no more than five people can gather together, among other measures.

The Iberian peninsula countries agreed to close their border to traffic, except for trucks and local cross-border workers, on March 17.

The land border is more than 750 miles long.

PA