Italy has outlined plans to ease the strict restrictions imposed seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus as it recorded its lowest daily death toll since mid-March.
Italian authorities reported 260 deaths linked to COVID-19 on Sunday, the fewest daily deaths since 14 March, bringing the country’s total to 26,644.
In an evening briefing on Sunday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that manufacturing and construction companies would be able to resume business from Monday 4 May, with retail trade reopening a fortnight later on 18 May.
Addressing reporters through a video link, Mr Conte said: “From 4 May the entire manufacturing sector will reopen, the entire building sector too and also the entire wholesale sector linked to the manufacture and the building sectors.
“This is very important passage, but we are doing it with a very articulate and well-structured plan written in this new decree. We are allowing this reopening only under the condition that all companies will be strictly compliant with all security protocols.”
Speaking on television, 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