Italy relaxes restrictions as number of deaths falls

Italy relaxes lockdown as number of deaths falls
People wearing face masks arrive at the Cadorna railway station, as Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Italy- the first country in the world to order a nationwide lockdown – is easing some restrictions after the number of deaths there is at its lowest level since just after its lockdown began two months ago.

Italians will be free to stroll and visit their relatives for the first time in nine weeks. By easing the restrictions, the country eases back the world’s longest nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Four million people – an estimated 72 percent of them men – will return to their factories and construction sites as the economically and emotionally shattered country tries to get back to work.

Restaurants that have managed to survive the country’s most disastrous crisis in generations will reopen for takeaway service.

But ice cream parlours and bars will remain shut. The use of public transport will be discouraged and everyone will have to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Stefano Milano, a 40-year-old Rome resident said: ”We are feeling a mix of joy and fear.”

He said: ”There will be great happiness in being able to go running again carefree, in my son being allowed to have his little cousin over to blow out his birthday candles, to see our parents.”

‘Moment of responsibility’

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated in December Last year, led the world with an unprecedented lockdown on January 23 that lasted 76 days.

Italy followed the suit weeks later, becoming the first Western democracy to shut down virtually everything in the face of an illness that has now officially killed 28,884 in the country – the most in Europe – and some fear thousands more.

The lives of Italians began closing in around them when it was apparently clear that the first batch of infections in provinces around Milan were spiraling out of control.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte began by putting a quarter of the population in the northern industrial heartland on lockdown on March 8.

As the virus continued to spread, Mr Conte was forced to announce a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

He told the nation: ”Today is our moment of responsibility. We cannot let our guard down.”

The official death toll was 272 back then, but as hundreds began dying each day in the following days, more waves of restrictions were implemented.

Almost everything except for grocery stores and pharmacies was shuttered across the Mediterranean country of 60 million on March 12.