Spain and Italy, two of the biggest casualties of the Coronavirus pandemic in Europe have begun the process of lifting their lockdown restrictions.
Both countries have been hit hard by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, but latest figures show that the spread of the disease appears to be slowing.
The news has led to Spain beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions, with construction and factory employees being allowed to return to work from Monday, April 13.
The rest of the country, however, including retail shops and services are to remain closed. Office workers are being encouraged to continue to work from home with people are being asked to remain safe in their own homes for the fifth week in a row.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has issued new guidelines, stipulating that all of the impacted companies will be required to supply their employees with protective equipment and must ensure that all social distancing measures are met.
Business Association CEOE has however warned that many companies, especially the smaller firms that make up the bulk of the Spanish economy, do not have access to the protective equipment needed to guarantee the safety of their workers. In particular equipment like gloves and masks.
Some health experts and regional leaders have criticised the move to lift restrictions. They fear a revival of the coronavirus outbreak, which is weighing heavily on the Spanish economy with roughly 900,000 jobs being lost since mid-March.
The Spanish Prime Minister spoke over the weekend saying “We are still far from victory, from the moment when we will recover normality in our lives. 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”.
Despite the easing of some of the restrictions, Sanchez added that “Spain was still at least two weeks away from lifting any additional lockdown measures”. These would apply to the reopening of schools, shops, restaurants, bars and other public facilities.
The Spanish Health Ministry figures show that the country's overall death toll, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, currently stands at 18,056. The number of confirmed cases is 172,541.
With the number of coronavirus cases falling since late March, it has been reported that Italy is also following suit this week, with the government allowing a small number of businesses to reopen. Businesses such as bookshops, stationers and children’s clothes shops will be allowed to open their doors from today.
Current lockdown restrictions will, however, remain in place for the rest of the country until at least May 3.
It was reported that Italy had 431 new deaths on Sunday, the smallest increase since March 19.
As of April 13, current data shows that there have been at least 19,899 deaths and 156,363 confirmed cases in the country.