The next chapter for Italy - easing of lockdown begins

The next chapter for Italy - easing of lockdown begins

After a strict two-month lockdown, Italy is facing a moment of truth in the fight against coronavirus.

Stir-crazy Italians will be free to stroll and visit relatives for the first time in nine weeks on Monday as Europe’s hardest-hit country eases back the world’s longest nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

With a partial lifting of the restrictive measures, in the next few days, everyone including other EU Governments will watch the daily infection report issued by the Civil Protection Department and observe if they got the timing right to ease the restrictions.

Italy was among the first European countries to impose strict restrictions to contain the infection, shutting down much of normal life on March 10.

Italy’s total death toll has climbed to more than 28,000, the second-highest in the world after the US, with more than 200,000 cases confirmed so far.

Italy goes back to work

But on Monday, some 4.5 million workers will return to work as the so-called “Phase 2” begins. Many of them live in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, in the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. They will return to their construction sites and factories as the economically and emotionally shattered country try to get back to work.

Those regions are Italy’s most industrialised areas and are known as the engine of the country’s economy, producing 45 percent of total economic output.

Manufacturing, construction companies and some wholesalers will resume operations on Monday, but movement between regions remains forbidden, leaving it up to each territory to monitor changes and trends in infection rates.

Restaurants that have managed to survive Italy’s most disastrous crisis in generations will reopen for takeaway service.

But bars and even ice cream parlours will remain shut. The use of public transport will be discouraged and everyone will have to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Parks will reopen across cities. Individual exercise is allowed, which leaves out football training. Serie A teams have been trying to get permission from regional governors to perform group sessions, but the government in Rome has issued a veto. Takeaway businesses will also be firing up their kitchens once more.

Limited family visits will be permitted, but religious ceremonies remain suspended. Only funerals and weddings can be performed, with a maximum of 15 people in attendance, all wearing face masks and preferably outdoors.

People will still be discouraged from travelling freely even within the city where they live, with everyone being asked to carry a formal declaration giving the reasons for their being outdoors in order to avoid sanctions.


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