Italy likely to start relaxing lockdown on May 4th

Denmark and Austria first two countries in Europe to ease coronavirus restrictions

 Italian minister for economic development Stefano Patuanelli, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, Italian economy minister Roberto Gualtieri and Italian minister for education Lucia Azzolina attend a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome. Photograph: EPA

Italian minister for economic development Stefano Patuanelli, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, Italian economy minister Roberto Gualtieri and Italian minister for education Lucia Azzolina attend a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome. Photograph: EPA

 

Italy is likely to start relaxing its lockdown starting May 4th if the spread of the coronavirus continues to slow, il Corriere della Sera reports, citing unidentified scientific advisers to the government.

Certain businesses may be allowed to re-open by mid-April, but it may be some weeks more before rules are relaxed on people leaving their homes and socialising in public places, the newspaper said. Regulations over social distancing and wearing protective gear may remain in place even longer.

The most recent decree by prime minister Giuseppe Conte’s government sets April 13th as the final day of the lockdown. New measures will probably be considered between Friday and Saturday, taking into account the progress of the virus by then.

Denmark and Austria became the first two countries in Europe to announce plans to loosen restrictions. Denmark will press ahead with a “cautious reopening” starting with daycare and primary schools on April 15th if the virus numbers remain stable, Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday evening. The government will also start talks with business leaders on gradually moving employees back into offices, but some restrictions will remain in place for months to come.

“We’ve managed to avoid the misfortune that has befallen a number of other countries” because “we acted early,” Frederiksen said.

Denmark and Austria were among the first countries in Europe to shut down public life in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz earlier on Monday announced the first steps to restart his country’s economy, with small shops, hardware and gardening stores allowed to reopen after Easter, to be followed by the opening of all retailers from May 1st.

In Denmark, restrictions on crowds larger than 10 people are to be extended as are border closures. In Vienna, chancellor Kurz, who delivered his remarks from behind a protective screen while wearing a facemask, said that social-distancing rules will still apply at least until the end of April. “Just because the numbers retreat, the danger isn’t gone,” he said.

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