A construction site in Valencia on 26 March 2020.
Construction and factory workers in Spain returned to work on Monday when the government lifted some of the most stringent locking measures, but opposition parties warned against easing “unwise” regulations.
Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19, has allowed several factories to reopen and some construction work has resumed, after the sectors were ordered to stop production two weeks ago. However, the message from government officials is that the country remains in locked mode. Schools, bars, restaurants and other services continue to be closed to the public and Spaniards should stay at home.
The decision to relax some restrictions on Spanish lockdowns has been opposed by political opponents, at a time when Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wanted a “big pact” to boost the economy.
“We must start the de-escalation in current political tensions and provide a way for unity, dialogue, consensus and agreement as soon as possible,” Sanchez said Sunday.
“We need a big pact for the economic and social reconstruction of our country,” the prime minister added.
The Spanish government was formed by the Socialist party Sanchez and the anti-austerity group Unidas Podemos. The coalition gained sufficient parliamentary support in January thanks to abstaining from small parties. The executive also faces some friction with the local government, including in Catalonia.
On Monday, more than 166,000 people in Spain contracted the corona virus, with 17,209 deaths nationwide, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Spain has recorded most cases of virus in Europe and number two after the US for the total number of infections.
Opposition parties have criticized the government’s decision to reopen factories and construction businesses, saying it is “unwise” and “courage” to relax some locking steps.
The pandemic began to have an impact on the Spanish economy. Jobless claims rose by 302,265 last month, according to Spanish Ministry of Manpower. This represented a 9.31% increase from February.
Italy will reopen several stores starting Tuesday
In Italy, there were 19,989 deaths registered on Sunday, representing a daily jump of 431 deaths from the previous day and the lowest daily increase since March 19.
Meanwhile, the number of infections reached 156,363 on Sunday night – the third highest globally.
The Italian government announced Friday that the current locking measures will remain in effect until May 3. However, bookstores, stationery and children’s clothing stores will be allowed to reopen starting Tuesday.
However, factories – which represent the main drivers of the Italian economy – have not been allowed to open their doors.