Italian shops, hairdressers and restaurants opened today after a 10-week COVID lockdown.
Customers could once again sip their morning cappuccino at the bar, albeit well spaced from other clients, and public masses were allowed again in churches after bishops put pressure on the government to sanction religious services.
Almost 32,000 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the third-highest death toll in the world after the United States and Britain. The pain has not been felt equally across the country, with the outbreak concentrated in the northern regions of Lombardy near the financial capital Milan, as well as neighbouring Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.
Monday marked a major step forward on the road to recovery, with unlimited travel allowed in individual regions, friends once again meeting up and restaurants able to serve as long as tables were at least two metres apart.
However, many business owners worried that the reopening might not magic away their many problems, with lingering fears of the coronavirus keeping many Italians at home, while foreign tourists, vital for the economy, were utterly absent.
The government has said it will open up Italy’s borders with Europe and allow free travel between the regions from June 3, but few expect a sudden influx of outsiders.