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Spain loosens coronavirus restrictions as nearly 300,000 return to work

Hundreds of thousands of non-essential workers returned to their jobs this week in Spain as the country partially lifted lockdown restrictions.

About 300,000 people who cannot work from home — including those in the construction and manufacturing industries — were allowed to return to work in and around Madrid on Monday, a spokesperson for the capital city’s regional government told CNN.

Shops, bars, restaurants and other businesses considered non-essential remain closed, according to the report.

Spain has reported more than 172,000 confirmed coronavirus cases — the highest count in Europe and the second-most affected country worldwide, next to the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

More than 18,000 deaths have been reported, second only to Italy.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said that the country will take “progressive” measures to return to normal life, emphasizing that the reopening will happen in phases, while officials enact hygiene measures and efforts to monitor for new cases.

“We can’t even know what kind of normality we’re returning to,” he said last week, according to CNN.

The lockdown loosening wasn’t well-received by Quim Torra, President of Catalonia, who said in a video statement that allowing people to return to work is “irresponsible and reckless.”

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