Italy allows regions to re-open restaurants and services from Monday

epa08396015 A woman wearing a protective face mask at the empty Anguillara Sabazia beach, near Rome, on the northern shore of the Lake of Bracciano on International Workers Day during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Italy, 1 May 2020. Lake Bracciano is an almost circular lake of volcanic origin. With an average width of 9 km, it is the second largest lake in the Lazio region after Lake Bolsena. EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI

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Italy’s Government has granted its 20 regional authorities the power to ease off restrictions as from Monday 18 May, decisions which could include, at the Region’s discretion, the re-opening of bars, restaurants, hairdressers, barbers and beauticians across the country.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced this decision late yesterday evening, after mounting pressure by a number of regions to be allowed to reduce the social and economic restrictions as part of the so-called Phase-2 of the country’s emergency plans.

According to the original plans, while most businesses could re-open on 18th May, hairdressers, bars and restaurants were to remain closed at least until the end of the month. A number of barbers had recently staged a protest in Naples, stating that current regulations were augmenting the number of illegal activities carried out.

However Rome will retain the right to intervene if the contagion curve rises. While Italy has registered the third highest death count in Europe, practically half of these happened in the prosperous northern region of Lombardy, while a number of central-southern regions have had a small amount of cases.

New infections had been declining constantly in the past days, with yesterday’s increase of 744 being the lowest since 4th March, that is prior to the implementation of a nation-wide lockdown.

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