Italy is starting to ease its lockdown - but will tourists be able to travel there this summer?
Seven weeks on from its imposed lockdown, Italy has now set out plans for easing its restrictions.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced that measures will be relaxed from 4 May, after the country recorded its lowest number of new confirmed cases since 10 March.
What restrictions have been lifted?
From 4 May, Italians will have more freedom in moving around their regions and in who they can visit.
Parks, factories and building sites will also reopen, although schools will not resume classes again until September and church services remain banned.
The news comes as authorities believe the contagion rate - the number of people each person with the virus infects - is now low enough to justify the easing of some restrictions.
Mr Conte outlined the country’s plan for “Phase Two” of lifting its lockdown on Sunday (26 Apr).
The new rules will see the following restrictions lifted:
- People will be allowed to move around their own regions - but not between different regions
- Funerals will resume, but with a maximum of 15 people attending, and ideally will be carried out outdoors
- Individual athletes can resume training, and people will be allowed to do sports in wider areas, not just in the vicinity of their homes
- Sports teams will be able to hold group training from 18 May
- Bars and restaurants will reopen for takeaway service,rather than just delivery, from 4 May, but food must be consumed at home or in an office
- Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen for dine-in service from 1 June
- More retail shops not already opened under the earliest easing measures will reopen on 18 May along with museums and libraries
Will social distancing measures still be in place?
Mr Conte said that social distancing measures will need to continue for months to come, and urged members of the public to stay at least a metre apart from each other.
He said: “If we do not respect the precautions the curve will go up, the deaths will increase, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy.
"If you love Italy, keep your distance."
The government will also cap the price of face masks at 50 cents (approximately 44p).
How long has Italy been under lockdown?
Italy implemented a national stay-at-home order on 9 March, requiring all citizens to remain within a few streets of their door.
A slight easing of restrictions came into force on 14 April, permitting small shops, including bookstores, stationers and dry cleaners, to reopen.
Will travel to Italy be allowed this summer?
A slight easing of lockdown measures won’t come into force until 4 May, so tourists still have a long wait until travel to Italy is allowed again.
However, the government is allowing beach club owners to begin their maintenance, meaning Italian citizens may be able to enjoy some time on the beaches by summer.
Although there will be a minimum of two metres between sunbeds and social distancing will have to be maintained.
Currently, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising British nationals against all but essential international travel until at least 15 May, but further extensions are expected.
While each country will make its own decision regarding domestic travel, EU regulations allowing free movement of people between borders will depend on the growth rate of coronavirus cases around the world.
Alessandro Vespignani, an expert on epidemiology and the spread of disease, warned that Italians would be facing a summer "without travel", and said the second phase of handling the virus is a process that could last “for the next six to eight months.”
Speaking in a television interview earlier this month, he said: “The second phase will continue for a long time.
“We must not think that we can return to normality in July or August.”
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