ITALY is beginning cautious moves towards a new normality today after more than two months of a nationwide lockdown.
The worst hit country in Europe by the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy was the first nation in the world to order a national enforced confinement. But now a day after recording the lowest number of coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours since the shutdown came into force, Italy enters phase two of its pandemic emergency plan.
Some four million Italians, about one-fifth of the workforce, are returning to work as a good number of companies and factories reopen.
People are now allowed to visit relatives in the same region, although social gatherings and visiting second residences remain banned.
Citizens can still only leave their homes for justified reasons, which include for exercise and long walks. Parks are reopening, but people must keep their distance from others, and team sports are not permitted.
Restaurants and cafes are allowed to serve takeaways from today, but food must not be eaten on the street to avoid groups gathering together. Bars and ice-cream parlours remain shut.
So too do all shops until at least May 18, apart from garden centres and plant kiosks, and those already allowed to open: supermarkets, grocers, newsstands, pharmacies, book shops, stationers and children’s clothing outlets.
Wearing face masks is obligatory in indoor public spaces, but in regions like Lombardy, the epicentre of the country’s health crisis, using masks is necessary in all circumstances.
Anyone returning to Italy from abroad has to spend two weeks in self-isolation.
Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte has called on citizens to act responsibly and to respect the rules to try and prevent infections, reminding them that the new reality is “coexistence with the virus.”
“Like never before, the future of the country will be in our hands. We will need even more collaboration, civic sense and respect for the rules from everyone,” Conte posted on social media on Sunday night.
“We will have to keep attention levels always high, carry on maintaining interpersonal distance, wearing a mask when and where it will be necessary, and washing often and carefully. The more thorough we are in observing the safety indications, the sooner we can regain other areas of freedom.
“Let’s not waste what we have hard gained in 50 days,” the Prime Minster urged.