Health

Italian PM Conte to start easing lockdown from 4 May

(Update 1: Adds latest figures 5th graf)

Rome, Apr 21 (EFE).- Italy will announce plans to reopen the country starting from 4 May after a lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday.

Conte said in a statement in Italian on Facebook that easing the lockdown would involve a “complex programme” which will be announced by the end of this week.

“A reasonable prediction is that we will apply it starting May 4,” he added.

“We must act on the basis of a national plan, which takes into account the territorial peculiarities,” he continued.

Italy has been one of the worst affected by the outbreak, with more than 183.957 confirmed cases since the outbreak began and 24.648 deaths. Another 534 people died in the last 24 hours after contracting Covid-19, according to Italy’s Civil Protection Agency Tuesday.

Authorities ordered the closure of most businesses and confined residents to their homes on 9 March to slow the spread of infection and help the country’s health service as it struggled to cope with the crisis.

The number of new cases reported in Italy on Monday – 2,256 – was the lowest since March, confirming that the spread of the virus has been brought under control in the country.

Conte said the programme must offer a reorganisation of work performance, transportation and new rules for commercial activities while taking into account the characteristics of each region.

“Because the characteristics and methods of transport in Basilicata are not only the same as in Lombardy,” he added.

He acknowledged that many residents are “tired of the efforts made so far and would like a significant reduction of these measures or even their total abolition” as well as businesses which need “commercial activities to start as soon as possible”.

“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning,” he said.

“But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Conte added.

“It would make the contagion curve go up in an uncontrolled way and would nullify all the efforts we have made so far.”

He said the review of the restrictions must be based on scientific evidence and added: “We cannot rely on impromptu decisions to satisfy a part of public opinion or to satisfy the requests of some production categories, individual companies or specific regions.”

Conte warned that no detail could be overlooked to avoid another spike in infections, such as social distancing on public transport and avoiding busy rush hours, and that a “well-structured and articulated plan” would be needed. EFE

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