Grandparents in Rome embrace their granddaughter for the first time in two months after Italy allowed families to see each other again within the same region on May 4, 2020.

Yara Nardi/Reuters

Italy, France and Spain are all beginning to loosen their stringent, weekslong coronavirus lockdowns.

It comes as all three countries on Sunday reported their lowest coronavirus death and new infection rates in weeks.

These countries are among the hardest-hit in Europe, with Italy being the world’s coronavirus epicenter for much of March. All three countries have imposed strict lockdown measures since mid-March.

Now, many aspects of normal life are being eased back in. Restrictions to travel, exercise, shopping, dining, funerals, and working patterns are all being reconsidered or partially lifted.

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Italy, France, and Spain — among the worst-hit countries in Europe’s coronavirus outbreak — are gradually and cautiously moving toward a return to normal life after weeks of lockdown.

All three countries are going ahead with, or setting dates for, significant easing of some of the world’s strictest lockdown measures, which have been ongoing since mid-March.

The relaxation of measures come as all three countries report their lowest death rates and new infection rates in weeks.

A woman exercises in a newly reopened park in Rome, Italy, May 4, 2020.

Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

On the return in Italy: Factory workers, intra-regional rail travel, and bike shops

Italian authorities on Sunday reported a death toll of 174 — the lowest ever since the start of its lockdown on March 10, according to statistics website Worldometer.

The country also recorded 1,389 new cases on Sunday, having reported more than 6,550 daily new cases at its peak on March 21.

On Monday, the country also entered “Phase 2” of its coronavirus strategy — a new, more relaxed set of lockdown rules that had been planned since last week.

People in face masks arrive at Cadorna railway station, Milan, Italy, as travel within the same region is allowed without documentation on May 4.

Flavio Lo Scaldo/Reuters

From Monday, people are allowed to:

Visit relatives within the same region — previously impossible in a lockdown that had required paperwork to prove the journey was essential.

Exercise outdoors as long as they practice social distancing, according to the BBC.

Partake in funerals as long as it has a maximum of 15 attendees, according to CNN. (Funerals were previously only allowed the presence of an undertaker and a priest.)

Visit shops selling bikes and scooters, per La Repubblica. (The government allowed these shops to reopen to alleviate high demand on public transport systems.)

Four and a half million people — mostly in manufacturing — also returned to work on Monday, according to La Repubblica.

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However, schools, cinemas, and most shops will stay shut, the BBC reported.

The government also plans to reopen bars and restaurants by June, according to the BBC. 

Shortly before the easing of lockdown Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged Italians not to relax too much. “A phase of coexistence with the virus begins, responsibility is needed,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. 

A funeral takes place in Catania after Italy’s new lockdown easing allows up to 15 people on funerals, on May 4, 2020.

Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

Spanish restrictions eased on elite sports, transport, small businesses, and holiday islands

Spain also started lifting its stringent lockdown on Monday. 

It came as health authorities there reported 1,533 new coronavirus cases and 164 new deaths on Sunday, according to Worldometer, marking its lowest-ever number of daily new coronavirus cases and deaths since its lockdown began on March 14.

Here are the new lockdown rules from Monday:

Public transport will start running under strict social distancing rules, with all passengers required to wear a face mask, according to El País. (The government is handing out 14 million face masks to help, the newspaper reported.)

Some small businesses are allowed to reopen under strict rules. They can only take one customer per employee, and in some cases, shoppers have to book time slots to enter, El País reported.

Restaurants, which previously were only allowed home delivery, can now allow order pickups with a plexiglass barrier, according to the newspaper.

“High-performance” athletes are allowed to train outdoors at any time, while other sportspeople affiliated with clubs are given time slots, the paper reported.

Three of the Canary Islands — a chain of Spanish island territories off the northwestern African coast, which are popular among tourists — have been allowed to ease restrictions even further.

The government has from Monday allowed gatherings of up to ten people to take place, and shops are allowed to open to 30% capacity, El País reported.

A hairdresser wearing a protective mask and gloves cuts the hair of a customer at Madrid’s oldest barber’s shop on May 4, the day Spain eased some of its coronavirus lockdown.

Sergio Perez/Reuters

France to reopen schools, transport and some businesses within a week — if all goes well

The French government is planning to ease restrictions from May 11 if the current encouraging signs continue, according to the BBC.

On Sunday the country reported its lowest daily death toll — 135 — since March 22, according to Worldometer. The country has been under lockdown for almost seven weeks. 

Though the number of daily new coronavirus cases have increased and decreased over the past few weeks, this too is on an overall downward trend. The country recorded 297 new cases on Sunday, according to Worldometer.

A sticker reading “For our common health, leave this seat empty” at Gare de Lyon metro station in Paris on May 2, 2020.

Benoit Tessier

Assuming this continues by May 11, children will return to schools, some businesses will reopen, and people will be allowed to travel within 60 miles, the BBC reported.

Under the current rules, people have to produce a form explaining why they need to leave the house every time they do so.

However, many office workers will likely have to continue working from home well into the summer, labor minister Muriel Pénicaud told Franceinfo.

The government will also announce plans for the reopening of restaurants at the end of May, Le Monde reported, citing finance minister Bruno Le Maire.

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