As two of Europe's hardest-hit countries ease lockdown restrictions, people flocked outside to enjoy the nice weather over the weekend

By Claudia Harmata
May 04, 2020 04:26 PM

The streets of Italy and Spain saw foot traffic for the first time in months as two of Europe's hardest-hit countries amid the coronavirus pandemic begin easing lockdown restrictions.

Over the weekend, residents of both European countries were photographed enjoying the nice weather and outdoors as the governments begin to lift their strict stay-at-home orders after seeing a decrease in the number of deaths and cases over the last few weeks.

In Spain, officials allowed adults to outdoors for the first time since the lockdown began on March 15, CNN reported. Until now, Spaniards were only allowed to leave their homes to visit grocery stores or pharmacies.

However, there are still certain restrictions in place for those who wanted to go outside. According to CNN, individuals and couples aged 14 to 70 are only allowed outdoors from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

| Credit: David Ramos/Getty

Those over 70 have their turn from 10 a.m. to noon and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., while children under 14 are allowed outside between noon and 7 p.m. for walks with one parent or guardian.

As people flocked to the streets over the weekend, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez shared a message of caution on Twitter Saturday morning.

"Today we take a new step in the relaxation of confinement but we need to do it with caution and responsibility. The virus is still there. We need to follow the guidelines for hygiene and social distancing," he wrote in Spanish.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Similarly in Italy, residents were finally allowed to enjoy the outdoors and visit relatives as long as they maintain physical distance from others. Photos showed Italians once again gathering in places like Venice's St. Mark's Square and waiting outside local shops for an espresso, The Guardian reported.

St. Marks Square, Venice
| Credit: MARCO SABADIN/AFP via Getty
Venice, Italy
| Credit: MARCO SABADIN/AFP via Getty

“I literally haven’t been out of the house,” Rina Sondhi, who lives in Orvieto told the outlet of the last few months. “The biggest shock for me was the fresh air. Today I feel liberated, but with caution — that’s the important thing, we can have the freedom but we must be really careful.”

The lifting of restrictions is the country's "Phase 2" of returning to normal life after the pandemic, and the hashtag "#Phase2" was even trending on Twitter in Italy as people shared photos and notes of their first time outdoors, according to Business Insider.

On Monday, almost 4 million Italians also returned to work for the first time since the outbreak hit their country as it begins to open up a small number of businesses.

In its peak, Italy reported over 6,550 daily new cases of the virus, but on Sunday it recorded 1,389, BI reported. The country has seen their number of cases declining since late March.

To date, Spain accounts for 217,466 of global coronavirus cases and 25,264 deaths, while Italy claims 211,938 cases and 29,079 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins database. Spain has also seen 118,902 recoveries from the virus and Italy has recorded 82,879.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.