Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte outlines plan to ease coronavirus lockdown, restart country
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says Italy’s lockdown restrictions will begin to ease on May 4.
More than two months after the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a small town outside Milan, Italy is preparing a staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown.
Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits following weeks of lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said.
Italy plans to look at a second-phase plan to combat the crisis, attempting to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections.
“We expect a very complex challenge,” Mr Conte said as he outlined the roadmap to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March.
Despite an easing of restrictions, travellers will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reason for their journey.
“We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible.
Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later.
Restaurants and bars will reopen fully from the beginning of June, while takeaway businesses could be earlier.
“The reopening is allowed on condition that all companies involved strictly respect security protocols in the workplace,” Mr Conte said, adding the move would lay the ground for deeper reforms of the economy in the months ahead.
In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted.
But movement between regions remains suspended and travellers will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journeys.
Museums and libraries will reopen from May 18, when sports teams will also be able to resume group training, although Mr Conte said conditions would have to be assessed before there was any decision on resuming the top-flight Serie A football championship.
However, schools will remain shut until the start of the new academic year in September, which could leave families facing childcare problems for months to come.
Italy’s death toll remains the worst in Europe, with more than 26,000 dead. It has almost 200,000 confirmed cases.
The lockdown has put a strain on the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which according to analysts, could be headed for its worst recession since World War II.
Italian business leaders have called for the restrictions to be eased to head off economic catastrophe.
Mr Conte said the more limited restrictions would likely remain in place until the discovery of an effective vaccine or cure for COVID-19, which is not expected for many months.
On Sunday Italian authorities reported a third consecutive daily fall in coronavirus fatalities, with 260 deaths, the lowest number since March 14.
Italy’s death toll remains the heaviest in Europe, with more than 26,000 dead and almost 200,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease. But the number of new cases has been slowing and the number of patients in intensive care has been falling steadily.
Hit hard by the virus weeks before other major Western countries, Italy has been forced to serve as a model for how to fight it. It is being closely watched around the world as it takes its early steps to chart a path out of a strict lockdown it imposed in early March.