Spain begins to ease coronavirus lockdown to revive economy

Spain begins to ease lockdown to revive economy
Police officers face masks at metro and railway stations in Spain. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: Spain is beginning to ease strict lockdown measures that have brought its economy to a standstill. The country is one of the worst-hits by the coronavirus.

People in construction, manufacturing and some services are being allowed to return to work but must stick to strict safety guidelines, but the rest of the population must still remain at home.

Spain has recorded 17,500 deaths due to the virus, but the rate of new infections has been falling.

Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe, with almost 20,000 deaths. Italy will also allow a narrow range of firms to resume operations on Tuesday.

On Monday, Spain’s health ministry said that the daily number of deaths had dipped slightly, with 517 reported in the previous 24 hours, compared with 619 announced on Sunday.

“We are still far from victory, from the moment when we will recover normality in our lives,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned over the weekend. “We are all keen to go back out on the streets… but our desire is even greater to win the war and prevent a relapse.”

The government lifted some of the restrictions on Monday which were put in place on 27 March and allowed businesses whose employees cannot work remotely to reopen.

Spanish officials intend to distribute 10 million face masks on public transport.

Quim Torra, the head of the regional administration in Catalonia, said he would not comply with any easing of the lockdown for non-essential workers, warning that “the risk of a new outbreak and a second lockdown is enormous”.

Prime Minister said the decision was taken after consulting a committee of experts.

Mr Sánchez also noted that Spain had not entered the “second phase” of the fight against the coronavirus, when there would be any further loosening of the lockdown.

He added that it was at least two weeks away and would “be very gradual”.

Builders can only work in areas away from local residents, so they cannot yet go back to doing home improvements.

The government’s latest move means a return to normality of sorts for many non-essential workers. Two weeks ago when the national lockdown was tightened, they were told to stay at home.

Antonio Álvarez, a self-employed manual worker, described it as a relief to be able to resume work on the digging of a swimming pool on private property near the capital.

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