Italy to soften COVID-19 rules from end of April

The Nation  |  Apr 16, 2021

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced Friday that the country’s strict anti-coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed from the end of this month, with a gradual approach that will favor outdoor activities.

At a news conference with Health Minister Roberto Speranza, Draghi said that the current rules will be progressively eased from April 26.

“This time we took a different approach and we will prioritize outdoor activities,” Draghi said, adding that the decision implies a “calculated risk.”

Under the plan, based on current data on infection rates, some regions will return to the lower-risk “yellow zone” classification, which allows main activities and movements among regions.

School reopening will be the other priority in the government plan, Draghi said, adding all schools will resume in-person classes.

Restaurants and bars will also be allowed to reopen, for both lunch and dinner, but only with outdoor seating.

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Health Minister Speranza said that outdoor pools should be allowed to reopen from May 15, while gyms could restart activities from July 1.

Draghi said he hoped this relaxation in COVID-19 restrictions would be “irreversible.” But, he added if data showed a return to high rates of infection, the rules could be tightened again.

The Italian premier also addressed the health of the Italian economy, after his Cabinet on Thursday approved an additional €40 billion ($47.9 billion) to help citizens and businesses hit by the pandemic.

The move will push Italy’s public deficit to record levels, raising worries on the sustainability of the country’s massive debt.

Draghi said the new funding is a sort of investment in what he called “good debt,” which is based on betting on future growth, boosted by a solid reform plan.

“We can look at the future with a prudent optimism and some confidence,” the premier said.

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