Italy Starts Slow Return to Normal Life

Nearly two months after ordering Italians to stay home in an effort to slow one of the worst outbreaks of the new coronavirus in the world, the Italian government on Monday cautiously eased a few restrictions, while keeping many others in place, Reuters reports.

Despite more than 29,000 Italians dying of COVID-19 since the outbreak emerged on Feb. 21, some people have nonetheless complained that the rollback is too timid, while others worry that complacency will lead to a fresh wave of infections.

Many are simply overjoyed to get some of their old life back.

“I woke up at 5.30 a.m. I was so excited,” said Maria Antonietta Galluzzo, a grandmother taking her 3-year-old grandson for a walk in Rome’s Villa Borghese park — the first time they had seen each other in eight weeks.

The unkempt grass towered above the boy’s head and the air was full of the sound of lawnmowers as park staff began to restore some order to one of Italy’s most elegant gardens.

“He has grown by this much,” she said, holding up three horizontal fingers to show the spurt. “It is wonderful.”

Under the new rules, 4.5 million Italians can clock back in, construction work can resume and relatives can reunite. More importantly for some, cafes were allowed to reopen for takeaways, with customers sipping their coffees on the pavement.

“This is my first proper coffee for eight weeks,” said Riccardo Monti, the CEO of an e-commerce company. “Perhaps it is the thing I missed most. The bar is the focal point of our social life so to see them closed was a trauma.”

While some old rituals returned, many curbs stayed in place to try to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in the country with the world’s second highest death toll after the United States.

There were 195 new deaths on Monday, up from 174 the day before and twice as many as the daily tally on March 9, when Italy’s lockdown began.

Friends are still barred from meeting up, the cause of much grumbling on social media, most shops must stay shut until May 18, and schools, cinemas and theatres remain closed indefinitely, Reuters adds.

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