Italy’s prime minister outlines lockdown easing measures


Italy plans to ease the strict restrictions imposed seven weeks ago. Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, said that the measures will be relaxed from 4 May.

Italians have been living under a national stay-at-home order since 9 March. With everyone required to remain within a few streets of their door.

There were 260 new virus-related deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily figure since 14 March. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Italy confirmed 197,675 cases of coronavirus.

The number of cases in Italy has been falling, and authorities believe the contagion rate is low enough to justify a cautious easing of curbs.

What has been announced?

Mr. Conte outlined how the country will begin “Phase Two” of lifting its coronavirus lockdown.

Parks, factories, and building sites will reopen. Schools won’t restart classes until September. Sports teams will be able to hold group training from 18 May. People will be allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers.

People could move around their own regions. Funerals are set to resume, but with a maximum of 15 people attending, and ideally to be carried out outdoors. Church services will remain banned.

Bars and restaurants reopen for takeaway service from 4 May,  not just delivery as now. Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars, and restaurants reopen for dine-in service from 1 June. More retail shops reopen on 18 May along with museums and libraries.

Mr. Conte stressed that social distancing measures would need to continue for months to come. He urged people to stay a meter away from each other. “If we do not respect the precautions the curve will go up, the deaths will increase, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy,” he said.

What is happening in other countries?

Spain reported on Sunday its lowest daily death toll in more than five weeks. On Sunday, kids could go outside for the first time in six weeks.

In Switzerland, garden centers and hairdressers will open on Monday. Schools and shops selling items other than food will reopen in two weeks. But gatherings of more than five people remain banned until 8 June. It is unclear when bars and restaurants reopen.

In Germany, facemasks became mandatory in public transport. The government plans to manufacture millions of masks in Germany.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to work on Monday, after recovering from the virus. Mr. Johnson spent a week in the hospital after being admitted on 5 April.

Related article: Spain to relax regulations for under 14 year-old children





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