Europe braces for reopening despite fears of virus second wave

PARIS (HRNW) – Millions of people in France and Spain counted down to the relaxation of strict coronavirus lockdowns on Monday, hopes of release from their homes laced with fears of a second wave of a pandemic that has killed over 280,000 worldwide and wrought economic disaster.

In France, people will be able to walk outside for the first time in nearly eight weeks without filling in a permit, teachers will start to return to schools, and some shops will reopen.

Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas will however remain closed.

Spaniards outside of urban hotspots such as Madrid and Barcelona — which remain under lockdown — eagerly made plans to meet friends and family in bars and restaurants that have outdoor spaces. But the anticipation of regained freedom was tinged by concern.

European officials have been emboldened by declining death rates — France s toll of 70 on Sunday was its lowest since early April and Spain s daily fatalities have dropped below 200.

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