Rome, May 18 : Italy and Spain were among a number of European countries that were further easing their coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Monday.
In Italy, which currently has 225,435 COVID-19 cases and 31,908 fatalities, restaurants, bars, cafes, hairdressers and shops will be allowed to reopen from Monday, provided that social distancing was enforced, the BBC reported.
Catholic churches were preparing for the resumption of Mass, but there would be strict social distancing and worshippers must wear face masks.
Other faiths will also be allowed to hold religious services.
But health officials have warned of the continued dangers of large social gatherings.
On Sunday, Pope Francis held a private Mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which has been disinfected ahead of its reopening to tourists.
Meanwhile in Spain, which is now in phase one of the country’s four-phase system for reopening, up to 10 people will be allowed to meet together from monday, provided they wear masks and socially distance, while bars and restaurants can open outdoor seating at half capacity, the BBC reported.
Cinemas, museums and theatres were also opening at reduced capacity.
Barcelona, Madrid and parts of the north-west however remain in phase 0.
Most restrictions will remain in place, but some small shops will be allowed to reopen on Monday and funerals can be held for groups of up to 10 inside and 15 outside.
This has been dubbed “phase 0.5” – an intermediate step in these regions.
Elsewhere in Europe, Belgium is to begin reopening primary and secondary schools under strict conditions on Monday, with museums and zoos also opening their doors but only to those who book online, to limit numbers.
The famous Acropolis reopened in Greece, and secondary school students were returning to class.
Restaurants, cafes and pastry shops restart business at reduced capacity in Portugal.
Poland’s beauty salons and hairdressers reopen, as well as restaurants and cafes.