Spain relaxes restrictions as daily death toll from Covid-19 continues to slow

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                L'Espagne, l'un des pays les plus touchés par l'épidémie mondiale de coronavirus, a commencé lundi à assouplir les strictes restrictions de verrouillage qui ont gardé les personnes confinées chez elles pendant plus d'un mois et ont freiné l'activité économique. 
            

La propagation de l'épidémie de coronavirus en Espagne a continué de ralentir, avec 517 nouveaux décès enregistrés du jour au lendemain et avec le plus faible nombre d'infections enregistrées en plus de trois semaines, près de 3 500.

Monday’s figures from the Spanish Ministry of Health bring the total number of pandemic deaths in the country to 17,489 and the total number of positive cases to 169,496.

Heavy industry and construction workers return to work on Monday after a two-week hiatus from economic activity, but the government keeps most Spaniards in detention for the fifth week in a row.

People at major transportation centers received face masks on their way to work on Monday morning.

“The health of workers must be guaranteed. If this is not affected much, the activity cannot resume, “Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told Cadena Ser radio.

Lockdown restrictions helped slow a spiral of mortality that peaked in early April, but they tested the determination of those locked up in their homes.

On Monday morning, only a few commuters entered and left the main entrance to Madrid’s usually busy Atocha station. Road traffic was also light, with mainly public buses passing by.

Police distributed millions of masks early in the morning to areas that do not observe a holiday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday that the decision to restart certain sectors of the economy was taken after consulting a committee of scientific experts. Any further slowdown will depend on the gains made against the virus, he said.

“We are still far from victory, from the time we can resume our normal life, but we have taken the first decisive steps on the road to victory,” said Sanchez.

However, some regional leaders have criticized the measures, fearing a resurgence of the epidemic.

A re-opening company, Burgos Nicolas Correa’s industry group, said it would take steps to prioritize the health of its staff.

“We will continue to work in shifts, with staggered entrances and exits to avoid staff concentrations,” he added, adding that all workers would receive protective equipment.

European Central Bank Vice President Luis de Guindos said Spain’s dependence on tourism would likely make it worse off than the rest of Europe.

The coronavirus is weighing heavily on the Spanish economy, with some 900,000 jobs lost since mid-March.

“We are talking about the worst economic situation since the civil war (Spanish in 1936-1939),” said the former Spanish Minister for the Economy in La Vanguardia on Sunday.

Traditional festivals have also been disrupted by the epidemic.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

            

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