No Easter parade: Online Masses as Spain cancels traditional festivities
Rahul Pathak in Madrid
Christians are watching Easter services online. Cesar Manso/AFP

Christians are watching Easter services online. Cesar Manso/AFP

Normally this weekend millions of Spaniards would be on the streets in towns and cities across the country celebrating Holy Week.

Easter Sunday sees huge processions take place in Seville, Barcelona and in Madrid, but the coronavirus outbreak has put a stop to all that.

Even the Spanish Civil war didn't stop Holy Week in the big cities, but as Father Benjamin Echeverria from Madrid's Church of Jesus Medinacelli told us, COVID-19 has changed everything.

"The truth is we have never experienced a situation like this one before, such emptiness, people like us who have never experienced a war or a serious conflict in society. I think we are managing to get through this in a more normal way. Right now we're trying to stay calm," he said.

A new way of worshipping

At the Church of Jesus Medinacelli like many in Spain, daily services are now streamed on Youtube so the congregation can still attend the service whilst employing social distancing rules. Father Echeverria says the need for religion for those who practice, seems to be stronger than ever.

"Each one of us has different experiences in life, and each person believes in something in their own way," he said. "I think that faith always brings hope to our lives, I always like to define faith, or understand faith, as something that helps you face problems in your life without losing yourself."

The Vatican has suggested that Easter celebrations could be postponed untill mid-September, but for now the church remains eerily silent.

Spaniards are celebrating Easter at home. Jose Jordan/AFP

Spaniards are celebrating Easter at home. Jose Jordan/AFP

Easing of restrictions

Following the Easter weekend the restrictions on people's movements during the lockdown will be eased, allowing those in non-essential industries to go to work.

It comes amid a downward trend both in the daily death toll and in the rate of new infections. Saturday saw the Health Ministry report 510 deaths in hospitals over the previous 24 hours, that's the lowest figure, since 23 March.

However, there are fears that the new more relaxed rules could result in a second wave of new cases.

The country's health minister insists all decisions regarding the state of emergency were taken following recommendations from health experts. Salvador Illa stated: "Spain is not de-escalating, we remain in lockdown."

The government here is still advising people to work from home wherever possible, and to employ careful physical distancing if they do travel to work. The authorities say face masks will be handed out at metro and rail stations.