Italy sees its lowest daily death total in weeks. Amy Kellogg reports from Florence.
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Spain is slowly easing its restriction on residents by allowing some non-essential workers to return to their jobs on Monday as the coronavirus outbreak continues to slow down in one of the hardest-hit countries.
Heavy industry and construction workers were the first to resume working after measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 effectively brought Spain’s economy to a two-week standstill.
However, most Spaniards will continue self-isolating, and stores, bars, and public spaces remained closed for the fifth week in a row as the wider lockdown remains in place until at least April 26.
A local police officer distributes face masks to commuters at the Atocha train station during the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid on Monday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Spain’s decision to loosen restrictions comes as the country recorded its lowest daily number of infections in more than three weeks: 3,500 cases. Spain also reported 517 new deaths Monday, down from 619 on Sunday.
The Spanish health ministry’s Monday figures bring the overall death toll of the pandemic in the country to 17,489 and the total positive cases to 169,496. Spain has the third-most virus-related fatalities in the world behind the U.S. and Italy and trails only the U.S. in the total number of infections.
However, some health experts and regional politicians argued that it’s premature to ease any part of the lockdown order over fears the virus could resurge in a second wave.
Commuters wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus wait at the platform of Atocha train station in Madrid on Monday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the decision to ease open certain industries was made after consulting experts and no further loosening of restrictions would occur unless the outbreak shows additional signs of slowing.
“We are still far from victory, from the moment when we can pick up our normal lives again, but we have made the first decisive steps in the path towards victory,” Sanchez said.
Spain isn’t the first European country to relax lockdown measures. Last week, Norway, Denmark, Austria, and the Czech Republic began to ease their populations back into daily life with the reopening of some non-essential businesses and some schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.