MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 13: Spanish workers wear masks leaving the subway on April 13, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. More than 15,000 people are reported to have died in Spain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, although the country has reported a decline in the daily number of deaths. (Photo by Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images)

About 300,000 nonessential workers are estimated to have gone back to their jobs in Spain’s Madrid region on Monday as the country began a partial lifting of lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional government told CNN.

As Spain enters its second month of lockdown, some restrictions were eased, allowing those who cannot work from home, such as those in the construction and manufacturing industries, to return to work.

However, shops, bars, and restaurants and other businesses considered nonessential remain closed.

Spain has been one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 169,000 confirmed cases so far — the highest in Europe, and second only to the US, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The country has now recorded a total of more than 17,400 deaths. On Monday, it recorded the second-lowest daily rise in deaths for three weeks: 517 fatalities in the past 24 hours.

But Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has cautioned that the nation’s return to normal life will be “progressive,” stressing that the resumption of normal activity will happen in phases and will be accompanied by hygiene measures and efforts to monitor new cases and prevent further contagion.

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

 

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