BARS and beaches were packed across Europe yesterday as the Continent looks to get back to normal after lockdown.
Italy and Spain are further easing coronavirus restrictions today after both countries recorded their lowest daily death tolls for two months.
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Italy recorded 145 new Covid-19 deaths yesterday, the lowest since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 9.
And in Spain it was 87, the first time in two months it has been below 100.
Both countries had more than 900 deaths a day at the height of the outbreak.
The UK’s 170 deaths was also its lowest daily toll since March, but lockdown measures here are not being lifted yet.
In Italy today, more businesses including shops, bars and hairdressers will be opening their doors for the first time in two months, and churches will be holding services.
The government had wanted them to stay shut until the end of May but backed down under pressure from regional governors who threatened to begin reopening anyway.
Sardinia, Veneto and Calabria have said they will push for maximum easing of measures as soon as possible.
However, travel between regions and into Italy is still banned until at least June 3.
Spain is set for a shopping bonanza as the annual sales are due to go ahead despite social distancing fears.
Even in Madrid and Barcelona – which have not yet fully entered Phase 1 of exiting lockdown – smaller shops will be allowed to welcome customers without an appointment.
And outside the two big cities, people will be allowed to gather outdoors in groups of ten.
In Malaga, cafe owners were seen measuring the distance between tables as they prepared to welcome customers back today.
And the islands of Formentera and Cabrera in the Balearics, and La Graciosa, El Hierro and La Gomera in the Canary Islands, will be allowed to skip ahead to Phase 2 which allows the reopening of shopping centres and gatherings of up to 15 people.
But PM Pedro Sanchez said he will ask Parliament to extend the state of emergency until late June.
The tourist industry is set to lose its critical summer season with foreign visitors still not allowed.
Mr Sanchez said: “Spain needs tourism. But tourism needs security. It needs health guarantees.”
Meanwhile Belgium is to begin reopening primary and secondary schools today under strict conditions to keep children and teachers apart.
Portugal, Greece, Denmark and Ireland are also easing their lockdown measures by degrees.
It comes after people across Europe headed to parks and the coast at the weekend to enjoy their new freedoms as the worst-hit continent begins to emerge from the tough restrictions.
Beaches were packed in Greece, and surfers flocked to newly reopened Lacanau in France which had been shut for two months.
Parks around Paris and Annecy were also heaving with sunbathers, while outdoor cafes were busy with customers in Germany.
Over the weekend parasols and sun-loungers started to appear on coastlines in Italy ahead of the expected reopening.
Despite the falling death figures, Dr Hans Kluge of the World Health Organisation warned countries should be planning for a second wave of infection.
He said: “This is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation.”
Authorities in many countries have asked people to show restraint and not to throng public spaces like beaches as they are made accessible again.