- Italy has the highest number of cases (187,327) and deaths (25,085) in Europe.
- "The easing of measures must be based on well-structured and well-defined plans," Conte said.
- European countries, such as Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, are gradually beginning to relax restrictions on businesses and educational institutions.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the lockdown that has been implemented from March 9 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus will be gradually relaxed from May 4. Conte promised “a serious, scientific plan” that would include a “rethinking of modes of transport.”
It will be officially announced by this weekend. Italy has the highest number of cases (187,327) and deaths (25,085) in Europe. This is in a country with a population of about 60 million people. After four straight days of declining cases, the numbers shot up again on Tuesday, with 2,729 new cases. The new death toll has also increased by 534 in the last 24 hours, above the 454 on the 20th the day before.
Coexistence with New Virus
In a statement posted on Facebook by Conte, the Prime Minister emphasized that the Italian government is constantly making adjustments towards the “second stage” of the lockdown of “coexistence” with the new coronavirus. “I don’t believe the upcoming meeting of the 27 leaders will find a definitive solution, but I will do everything . . . to ensure it expresses a clear political path in the only reasonable direction,” he said.
“The easing of measures must be based on well-structured and well-defined plans,” Conte said, adding that Italy cannot “waive its maximum vigilance line.” There may be updates to the plan every 15 days, he says. There should be limits to travel between the Regions but the easing for citizens could concern the possibility of going to second homes, going to the park and finding relatives and running alone even away from home.
As for the production activities, there will be a strong push to smart working and rules for the offices, with the indication to avoid meetings and distance the workstations. The crucial point is transportation: peak times must be avoided. Therefore, not only mechanisms for limiting seats on public transport, with the possibility of traveling only sitting and distancing at stops, but also the way to encourage other means of transport, such as bicycles, and to extend the hours of offices and shops, maybe even at the weekend.
Italy is the third-largest economy in the Eurozone. European countries, such as Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, are gradually beginning to relax restrictions on businesses and educational institutions. However, there is no coordination between EU member states.
In Denmark, elementary schools and nursery schools have been restarting since the 12th, and barbershops and tattoo shops have been restarting since the 20th. This is the first time in Europe that education for children under 12 has resumed. Kindergarten was reopened in Norway on the 20th, subject to bringing lunch and complying with new hygiene regulations. Under these circumstances, all but young children continue to wait at home.
France has extended lockdowns all over the country until May 11, but schools are not expected to resume immediately after unlocking. French Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanchere said on the 21st that he plans to restart school starting from elementary school after unlocking the lockdown.
In Spain, all children are currently banned from going out, but the government has announced that it will allow children under 14 to go out from 27. However, it is limited to going to a grocery store or a pharmacy with parents. Lockdown in Spain has been extended until May 9.