COVID-19: Europe begins to ease restrictions

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Italy and Spain, two of the European countries hardest hit by the new coronavirus pandemic, announced plans on Sunday to begin easing restrictions in early May.

Italy will keep schools closed until September, but will begin reopening its manufacturing industry on May 4, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that Spain will facilitate some closure measures to allow family walks and individual exercise outdoors starting May 2.

While the European Commission has encouraged members to jointly coordinate plans to lift the restrictions, nations have so far submitted their individual plans separately. Belgium plans to open schools on May 18, while France aims for May 11.

In Italy, some "strategic" businesses, such as exporters, will be allowed to start opening next week with the approval of local authorities, with strict security measures required.

In Spain, meanwhile, the lifting of Spanish restrictions was said to be "gradual and asymmetric, but coordinated," with likely regional variation, according to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Spain recorded its lowest daily number of deaths from coronavirus in more than a month on Sunday, allowing children under the age of 14 to go outside for the first time since March 14. Schools will be closed but children will be allowed one hour of supervised outside activity about 0.6 miles from home.

Calls for restrictions to be loosened in Italy grew last weekend with reports of the fewest deaths from coronavirus in a week and the number of new cases indicating a plateau in the country's outbreak.

Until today, Spain has confirmed 219.764 cases, while Italy has confirmed 197.675, the second and third place after the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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