italy lifts lockdown
Photo: MTI/EPA/ANSA/REDAZIONE TELENEWS

People in Italy will be allowed to move freely within the country from Wednesday and the travel restrictions were also eased the same day with travelers from European Union (EU) and Schengen countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Andorra and Monaco being allowed to visit the country without subjecting to quarantine.

“A month from May 4, when we reopened our manufacturing and construction sectors, we can say the numbers are encouraging,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a nationally televised press conference on Wednesday evening.

“The trend of new cases is constantly decreasing in all our regions,” said the prime minister. “This shows the strategy we adopted is and has been the right one.”

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“As of today, European tourists can also travel to Italy,” he added. “They can visit our country without subjecting to quarantine.”

He added the government is hard at work to ensure Italy is once again “the safe and coveted destination of the tourists of Europe and the whole world.”

“The acute phase of the health emergency is behind us, but now we face the economic and social emergency,” Conte said.

“This crisis must also be an opportunity to design the country we want — to innovate from the ground up, to overcome structural problems we’ve been dragging for years,” Conte said.

He said “we have a historic opportunity” because the EU is planning a multi-billion-euro Recovery Fund and Italy will likely receive a lot of this money as one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe.

“We must know how to spend this money well,” Conte said as he outlined his “Recovery Plan” for Italy, which he said “rests on several pillars.”

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He listed modernization, digitalization, innovation, tax and justice reform, cutting red tape, transitioning to sustainable energy, and building a high-speed train network linking the south of Italy to the rest of the country as key elements of the plan.

Meanwhile Health Minister Roberto Speranza sounded a note of warning to his fellow citizens.

“We must proceed with caution and continue to follow the rules we have learned … because they are the key in the battle against COVID-19,” Speranza said in reference to social distancing in a statement released on Wednesday, as the last remaining restrictions on personal freedoms were lifted.

“The virus is still very dangerous,” Speranza warned.

Italy reported 71 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s toll to 33,601, out of total infection cases of 233,836, according to fresh figures on Wednesday.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 596 to 39,297 cases, according to the Civil Protection Department.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 353 are in intensive care, 55 fewer compared to Tuesday, and 5,742 are hospitalized with symptoms, a decrease of 174 patients compared to Tuesday.

The remaining 33,202 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are isolated at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 846 compared to Tuesday, bringing the nationwide total to 160,938.

The overall number of COVID-19 active infections, fatalities and recoveries has risen to 233,836 cases over the past 24 hours, an increase of 321 cases from 233,515 recorded on Tuesday.

The overall fatalities include 167 doctors, according to the National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists (FNOMCeO), which is keeping a running tally of MDs who died fighting the virus.

As the pandemic slowed down visibly in recent weeks, Italy further eased the 10-week lockdown on May 18. Shops, restaurants, bars, barbershops, beauty salons, museums, and beachfront operators were all allowed to reopen, provided that they respect rules for social distancing and disinfect facilities.

Also on Wednesday, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, home to masterpieces by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and many more exquisite Renaissance artists, reopened its doors to visitors.

The museum occupying the first and second floors of a palace built in the late 1500s and designed by Giorgio Vasari is a magnet for tourists worldwide.

Source: Xinhua – ROME

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