Italians enjoyed their first meal out for two months on Monday, as the country eased its lockdown restrictions, with bars, restaurants and cafes back in business and St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican open for visitors.
After a gruelling lockdown period during the coronavirus pandemic, Italians were once again able to sip cappuccino and cold beers – albeit at a physical distance from other customers.
“I haven’t worked for two and a half months. It’s a beautiful, exciting day,” Valentino Casanova, a barman in Caffe Canova in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo, told Reuters.
A handful of visitors, including nuns, queued up outside St Peter’s for the first time since 10 March. Police officers wearing face masks checked temperatures before allowing them to enter. Masses in churches across Rome also resumed. Worshippers sat apart on disinfected pews.
In Venice gondoliers wearing face masks ferried passengers along the Grand Canal, while mothers with small children sat in cafes overlooking the Rialto. Clients in Milan got their hair done, while local markets in the city of Salerno reopened.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, described the ending of national curbs as a “calculated risk”. Italy was the first European country to go into full lockdown, more than two months ago. It is now returning to a semi-normality, after nearly 32,000 deaths. Its economy has shrunk by 10%.
Other European countries followed suit on Monday. Spain indicated that it would allow tourists to return from the end of June and Poland allowed restaurants to reopen as part of its third phase of lockdown easing. Greece welcomed the first visitors back to the Acropolis.
Workers in masks and plastic face shields stood around the archaeological site in Athens, reminding people to keep apart as they entered through turnstiles. The country has recorded only 156 deaths from Covid-19.
Greeks are now allowed to travel freely and to visit the country’s two biggest islands, Crete and Evia. Shopping malls and zoos have reopened, together with sports facilities for those aged over 13. Wearing of masks is recommended but not compulsory, except on buses and trains.
In Spain, almost three-quarters of the country progressed to the second phase of lockdown de-escalation. Millions of people were able to meet up in groups of up to 10, and to have a drink or a meal on cafe or restaurant terraces. In Valencia masked waiters laid out tables overlooking the municipal beach.Advertisement
The transport minister, José Luis Ábalos, said the country would end two-week quarantine restrictions at the end of June, and would fully reopen its borders. The move would take place at the same time internal travel restrictions were phased out.
“From late June, we’ll start the tourism activity, I hope,” Ábalos said. “We must make Spain an attractive country from the health point of view.”
Via The Guardian