May 4 2020
Italy, which is Europe’s Covid-19 hardest-hit country eases back from its nine weeks nation-wide lockdown today.
Workers are allowed to return to their construction sites and factories as the country tries to get back to work.
Restaurants were reopened for takeaway service but bars and even ice cream parlours remained shut.
The use of public transport were discouraged and people will have to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus emerged in December last year was the first that went into lockdown on January 23 and it lasted 76 days.
Italy was the first that followed suit weeks later in the face of an illness that has now killed over 28,000 in that country.
The first batch of infections in provinces around Milan prompted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to put a quarter of the population in the northern industrial heartland on lockdown on March 8.
The next day, Conte changed the order into a nationwide one as many who were put under the initial lockdown tried to flee to less affected regions further south, risking further spread of the virus.
At that point, the official death toll was 724.
Hundreds began dying each day after that, forcing the government to enforce shut down on all businesses except for pharmacies and grocery stores on March 12 and non-essential factories on March 22.
Italy’s economy — the eurozone’s third-largest last year — is expected to shrink more than in any year since the global depression of the 1930s.
Half of the country’s workforce is now receiving state support.
Italy’s staggered reopening is complicated by a highly decentralised system that allows the country’s 20 regions to enforce their own rules.
Venice’s Veneto and the southern Calabria regions have been serving food and drink at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating since last week.
The area around Genoa is thinking of allowing small groups of people to go sailing and reopening its beaches.
Neighbouring Emilia-Romagna is keeping them closed — even to those who live by the sea.
A poll by the Piepoli Institute indicated that 62 percent of Italians think they will need psychological support during the post-lockdown period.