Italy set to ease coronavirus lockdown from May 4
April 21, 2020
ROME (Reuters) – Italy is likely to start easing its coronavirus lockdown from May 4 though the long-awaited rollback will be cautious and calculated, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday. The country has been one of the hardest hit in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 24,100 people killed since the contagion first emerged in February. Looking to contain the spread, the government introduced sweeping curbs in March, telling Italians to stay at home and shutting schools, businesses and industries nationwide. The restrictions have put a major strain on the euro zone’s third largest economy but with the number of new cases gradually slowing, Conte said he would unveil by the weekend government plans to loosen the shutdown. “I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning...But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Conte wrote in a Facebook post. He promised “a serious, scientific plan” that would include a “rethinking of modes of transport” to enable workers to travel in safety, new business rules and measures to check whether the loosening was leading to an uptick in infections. “It is reasonable to expect that we will apply it from May 4,” he said, adding that a rushed, disorganised exit strategy would make a mockery of the sacrifices Italians had accepted. But Conte did not give any specific details about which businesses would be allowed to reopen first or what limits might be maintained on movement around the country. Countries around the world are considering or taking steps to ease lockdowns, though the World Health Organization is warning this should be done slowly and only when there is capacity to isolate cases and trace contacts.