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We’re opening businesses on May 4, but don’t expect ‘full freedom for all’: Italy’s Conte outlines way out of lockdown

We’re opening businesses on May 4, but don’t expect ‘full freedom for all’: Italy’s Conte outlines way out of lockdown
In just over a week, Italy plans to reopen some of the previously closed export-oriented businesses, but Italians should not expect any major changes in terms of freedom of movement, the prime minister said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gave an overview of how his country, the first in Europe to take a serious blow from the Covid-19 pandemic, plans to return to some level of normalcy. Starting May 4, his government will allow some of the businesses closed six weeks ago to curb the spread of the disease to reopen, he said.

Export-oriented manufacturing that risks being cut out of supply chains, construction businesses, and wholesalers are likely to be given the green light on week one, with others gradually following. Conte also described plans to support the economy through state-guaranteed loans, cutting through undue red tape, and other measures.

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However, Italian citizens should not expect life to return to where it was before the outbreak, the prime minister told La Repubblica. While some social distancing restrictions may be revised as the country emerges out of the lockdown, it would be “a revision” and not “abandonment of the rules.”

“We are not yet in a position to restore full freedom of movement,” he said, adding that whatever relief is given, “it will not be full freedom for all.”

Schools will not be reopened in Italy until September, Conte said, adding that remote teaching has worked out well. He also said there will be government action to prevent shortages of masks and price gouging.

The Italian government is still discussing when to allow churches and cemeteries to hold religious services like masses and funerals. The fact that people cannot properly send off their deceased loved ones and get closure is “personally particularly painful,” Conte said.

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Italy is among the nations most affected by Covid-19, with a death toll of over 26,000, which is surpassed only by that of the United States. Its healthcare system was overwhelmed by the outbreak, while other EU members dragged their feet on assisting Rome. The roadmap for lifting the lockdown will be revealed to the public early next week, the prime minister said in the interview.

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