Italy’s PM outlines lockdown easing measures

Italy imposed strict restrictions seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus

Italy has outlined plans to ease the restrictions it imposed seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures would be relaxed from 4 May, with people being allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers.

Parks, factories and building sites will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September.

Roman Catholic bishops have written to Mr Conte to protest against the continued ban on church services.

It comes as the country recorded its lowest number of new confirmed cases since the outbreak began.

There were 333 new virus-related deaths on Monday, a slight rise on the 260 recorded on Sunday, to a total of 26,977 – still the highest recorded toll in Europe.

But the number of new cases was at its lowest since 10 March, and the number of people in intensive care also dropped.

Authorities now believe the contagion rate – the amount of people each person with the virus infects – is low enough to justify a cautious easing of curbs.

Other countries like Switzerland and Spain are also relaxing their measures.

What has been announced?

Speaking on television on Sunday, Mr Conte outlined how the country would begin “Phase Two” of lifting its coronavirus lockdown. The measures include:

  • People will be allowed to move around their own regions – but not between different regions
  • Funerals are set to resume, but with a maximum of 15 people attending, and ideally to be carried out outdoors
  • Individual athletes can resume training, and people can do sports not only in the vicinity of their homes but in wider areas
  • Bars and restaurants will reopen for takeaway service from 4 May – not just delivery as now – but food must be consumed at home or in an office
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen for dine-in service from 1 June
  • More retail shops not already opened under the earliest easing measures will reopen on 18 May along with museums and libraries
  • Sports teams will also be able to hold group training from 18 May

There was no announcement on the possibility of Italy’s premier football league Serie A resuming, even behind closed doors.

Mr Conte stressed that social distancing measures would need to continue for months to come, and said church services would remain banned. He urged people to stay a metre (3ft) 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,” the prime minister said. “If you love Italy, keep your distance.”

He also said his government would cap the price of face masks at 50 cents ($0.54; £0.44).

Source: BBC

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