Coronavirus Italy: Is Italy still in lockdown?

Italy is one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With a total of 28,884 deaths as of 8.30am on May 4, the European state is only behind the USA on the death toll table. But Italy is finally seeing the number of cases drop, while the UK continues to rise – meaning Britain could be about to overtake Italy’s grim total. But what does this mean for lockdown in Italy?

Is Italy still in lockdown?

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced the lifting of lockdown regulations after a catastrophic battle with coronavirus. Easing of restrictions is due to begin today, May 4.

Lockdown regulations were in place for seven weeks after the country became the new epicentre of the virus, suffering one of the worst death tolls in the world.

Back in March, the world watched as the lives of Italians began closing in around them as it became increasingly apparent that the first batch of infections reported in provinces around Milan were spiralling out of control

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Italy has suffered more than 28,000 deaths from COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged on February 21.

This is the world’s second highest death toll after the United States.

The daily tally of fatalities and new infections have slowed more gradually than the Italian government hoped, prompting Mr Conte to adopt a slow, phased approach to ending the lockdown, which will be constantly adjusted depending on contagion trends.

“We are still in the full throes of the pandemic,” he said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper on Sunday, stressing the so-called “phase 2” of the lockdown “must not be seen as a signal that we’re all free” and things can return to normal.

Factories geared towards exporting goods and public construction projects will resume from today, May 4.

Bars and restaurants can choose to reopen for takeaway and delivery only.

Movement of people will still be highly restricted: parks will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September.

Families will be able to travel within their home region to visit each other, as long as face masks are worn.

Other inter-region travel will remain banned unless for work or emergency purposes.

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On public transport, which will continue to run on limited services, face masks will be mandatory.

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

Restrictions on funerals have also been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners.

However religious services are still prohibited under the new rules.

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

The bishops argued the government and its scientific advisers should concentrate on giving precise sanitary guidelines and leave it to the Church to implement them autonomously.

Equal Opportunities and Family Minister Elena Bonetti also spoke out against the ban.

“So, we can safely visit a museum but we can’t celebrate a religious service? This decision is incomprehensible. It must be changed,” she tweeted.

Mr Conte responded saying: “I understand that freedom of worship is a fundamental people’s right.

“I understand your suffering. But we must continue discussing this further with the scientific committee.”

Mr Conte stressed the phased relaxation was necessary to prevent another spread of infection.

He said: “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.

“If you love Italy, keep your distance.”

There were 174 new virus-related deaths yesterday, bringing the total to 28,884 – still the highest recorded toll in Europe.

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