Italy’s prime minister has outlined plans to slowly ease the country’s seven-week lockdown, as he warned about the risk of the coronavirus infection curve rising again.

“If you love Italy, keep your distance,” Giuseppe Conte told Italians on Sunday night, as Covid-19 fatalities rose by 260 – the country’s lowest day-to-day increase since 14 March.

People’s movements will still very much be restricted under the plan, which envisages schools remaining closed until September.

Factories geared towards exports and public construction projects can resume activity from Monday, while the majority of Italy’s industry will restart from 4 May – a day after the lockdown expires.

Although he thanked citizens for the sacrifices they had already made after almost seven weeks in quarantine, Conte said “phase two” would be about “co-existing with the virus”.

“You must always respect the safe distance of at least one metre,” he added. “Even within the family setting. Experts tell us that one out of four cases of infection occur in the family context.”

Italians will be able to travel within their regions to visit relatives, so long as face masks are worn, but movement between regions will still be banned unless for work, health or other emergency purposes.

Parks and public gardens will reopen from 4 May and people can go for a walk or exercise outside so long as they maintain physical distancing. However, citizens will still need to carry a document citing the reason for venturing away from their home. On public transport, which will continue to run on limited services, face masks will be mandatory.

Museums, galleries, libraries and retailers will reopen on 18 May and bars, restaurants and hairdressers from 1 June.

“We all want the country to restart,” Conte said. “However, the only way to live with the virus in this phase is to not fall ill – and social distancing.”

Restrictions on funerals have been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners allowed to attend, but Conte was criticised for keeping churches and other religious sites closed.

“You can go to a museum but not celebrate a religious rite?” Elena Bonetti, the equal opportunity and family minister, said on Twitter. Teresa Bellanova, the agriculture minister, told La Repubblica the continued ban on masses was “absurd”.

Source : The Guardian

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