Italy officially enters third phase of de-escalation


Italy will enter its third phase of de-escalation from the coronavirus pandemic on Monday which will allow theatres, concert halls and cinemas to reopen after three months.

The country was one of the worst affected in Europe and went into lockdown on March 9, forcing most businesses and premises to close.

Authorities have been gradually easing these restrictions after the outbreak was brought under control in the country.

The government has postponed the reopening of night clubs and amateur sports clubs while monitoring the rate of infection, which has increased to more than 300 cases a day.

The leisure sector has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, along with tourism, and has been the last to restart.

A number of security measures have been imposed which will be impossible for many businesses to comply with, meaning they will not be able to open their doors.

Cinemas have a capacity limit of 200 people in large multiplexes, while for open-air shows up to 1,000 spectators are allowed.

A minimum distance must be maintained between customers but masks can be removed when seated.

Playgrounds and summer camps for children have also been allowed to take place amid social distancing and hygiene safety measures.

Religious processions are also allowed to restart, which are a frequent occurrence during the summer months as Italian towns celebrate their patron saints.

Italy reopened its borders to European Union countries and the UK on June 3 but delayed its plan to expand this to other nations, which had been due to take place from June 15.

“Travel to and from states and territories other than the European Union and Great Britain is prohibited until June 30, except for proven work needs, absolute emergency or for health reasons,” according to the rules set out under phase three of Italy”s de-escalation plan.

Only travellers from countries in the Schengen zone, UK Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are allowed.

Cruise services in Italy have been suspended until July 14 and other ships can only enter Italian ports to moor but their passengers are not allowed to disembark.

There has been controversy in the country over the reopening of schools on September 14 as security measures for this step have not yet been outlined by the education ministry.

Some regional leaders have criticized the date as local elections are scheduled to take place on September 20 which will mean educational centers will have to close again.

Giovanni Toti, president of the Liguria region in northwest Italy, said some districts have proposed September 21 as a better date to avoid schools having to close again for three days during the elections and be re-disinfected.

There has been a slight increase in infections as the country enters the third phase of de-escalation, with authorities reporting 55 deaths and 346 infections on Saturday.

Just over 200 of these new cases were registered in the Lombardy region in the north of Italy, which was the focus of the country”s outbreak.

Around 49,750 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, about 20,000 fewer than on previous days.

Two outbreaks were also detected in Rome, one at the San Raffaele Pisana hospital and another in a residential building.

Five people tested positive on Sunday who had contact with the hospital, including two technicians from RAI public television, which has sparked testing at the headquarters of the broadcasting company.

There have been a total of 104 confirmed cases and five deaths in the hospital outbreak.

The hotspot in the residential building, in the Roman neighbourhood of Garbatella, has seen nine confirmed infections after a Peruvian family living there became ill.

There have been more than 236,600 confirmed cases and 34,300 deaths in the country since the start of the outbreak.

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