ROME — Italy has brought forward the easing of coronavirus restrictions, meaning people can enjoy al fresco dining from April 26.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced the easing of rules, almost a week earlier than planned, at a press conference Friday. The reopening includes schools as well as open-air restaurants, bars, cinemas and theaters.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said: “The priority in the recovery will go to activity that can take place outside. Outside it is much harder to catch the virus.” This principle “will accompany us throughout the transition phase.”
The government’s decision reflects an acceleration in the vaccine campaign and improvement in the data since Easter, when the latest restrictions were brought in, Draghi said, although cases remain at an average of 15,000 a day over the past week.
The government “is taking a risk,” Draghi acknowledged and the decision to open up is dependent on Italians respecting the rules “rigorously,” he said, mentioning the use of masks and social distancing. “If the rules are respected, the risk of turning back is very small,” he said.
The announcement follows days of protests by restaurant and business owners in cities across Italy. The tougher measures brought in at Easter meant restaurants could only offer takeaway.
The accelerated reopening was “a response to the difficulties experienced by different groups, businesses, restaurants, young people,” Draghi said, adding: “It will bring serenity to the country.”
Speranza outlined a “roadmap” for further openings, including swimming pools from May 15, some activities in gyms from June 1 and trade shows from July 1.
The government did not give a precise date for a full return to normality, but Draghi said in the autumn “vaccines will be widely diffused.”
Speranza said that “with each vaccine a part of the country develops a shield, and the stronger the shield is the easier it is to start to live a different life to that we have been living for the past few months.”