In Brief

Spain relaxes lockdown as daily death toll falls to 517

Industrial and construction workers allowed to return to work as strict rules loosened

Spain has begun to loosen its coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with some non-essential workers returning to their jobs.

In a move that Sky News says “will be watched closely by other countries,” industry and construction workers have been permitted to return to work after a nation-wide shutdown which closed all sectors apart from healthcare and food. 

However, the rest of the population must still remain at home as shops, bars and public spaces remain closed until at least 26 April.

The initial loosening came after Spain’s Covid-19 death toll fell to 517 on Monday from 619 on Sunday. Overall cases rose to 169,496 from 166,019 - the smallest proportional daily increase since tracking began.

Passengers at main transport hubs were handed face-masks by police as they went to work yesterday morning. However, only a few commuters were seen at Madrid's usually busy Atocha train station, while road traffic was also light.

“The health of workers must be guaranteed,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said.

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Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of health emergencies, sounded a note of caution to company bosses when she said: “If there is a person who shows the slightest symptom, they should contact the health system and remain in self-isolation.” 

One of the companies to reopen, Burgos-based industrial group Nicolas Correa, said it would prioritise the health of its employees. “We will continue to work in shifts, with staggered entries and exits to avoid concentrations of staff,” it pledged.

Last week, it was reported that Spain could see “light at the end of the tunnel” but the government has been keen to emphasise that this is not the end of the road.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “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.”

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