Italy considers reopening shops earlier following protests

After Italian shopkeepers and business owners protested in cities across Italy this week, the government is considering allowing reopenings sooner than planned.

Italy considers reopening shops earlier following protests
The government is facing pressure from business groups, and there have been protests by hairdressers and owners of other businesses not yet allowed to reopen under Italy's phase two lockdown rules.
The government is now weighing up whether to bring forward the scheduled reopening of shops, prime minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday.
“The government has no intention of protracting this residual lockdown,” he told business group Rete Imprese Italia.
Many business owners say they may not survive until May 18th or June 1st, when the government has planned the next phased reopenngs.
On May 18th, shops of all kinds are currently set to be allowed to open again, no longer just supermarkets, pharmacies and food shops.
While the government has not yet finalized plans beyond this date, Conte has said they hope to reopen cafes, restaurants, bars, pasticcerie, gelaterie and all other food and drink businesses from the beginning of June.
Hairdressers, beauty salons and massage parlours may also be allowed to open at the same time.
Seating is likely to be limited to maintain distance, while face masks will be required for both staff and customers at hairdressers and salons.
The plans for reopening depend on whether the rate of coronavirus infections in the country continues to fall, the government said.
Some businesses deemed low risk, including bookshops and dry cleaners, were allowed to reopen back in mid-April.
The government has released emergency payments and has allowed business owners to delay paying commercial rents and some taxes during the shutdown – but protesting business owners have said this won't be enough to keep them afloat.

Hairdressers in Venice protesting the shutdown on May 4th. Photo: AFP

Member comments

  1. From the photo of a crowd in the piazza, it looks like there is no social distancing, and a lot of people without masks. I hope there’s not a huge outbreak again after the reopening.

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”