Apr 21, 2020 - World

Italy's prime minister previews cautious coronavirus reopening

In this image, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks into a microphone
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Guidelines to cautiously reopen parts of Italy will likely be applied starting May 4, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Why it matters: Italy, which enforced the world's first nationwide coronavirus lockdown in March, has reported the most deaths caused by COVID-19 outside of the U.S., per Johns Hopkins data.

What he's saying: "I wish I could say: Let's reopen everything. Right away. We'll start again in the morning. This government has put the protection of citizen's health first, but it is certainly not at all insensitive to the objective of preserving the efficiency of the production system. But such a decision would be irresponsible. It would bring up the contagion curve uncontrollably and it would frustrate all the efforts we've put in so far. All together," Conte wrote on Tuesday.

Details: Conte said the country's reopening plan should include assessments of how many people use public transportation and private vehicles at what times, and how social distancing can be guaranteed — and rush hours avoided — for commuters.

  • He also said easing travel restrictions should vary based on the region, since "the characteristics and modes of transportation in Basilica are not the same as in Lombardy."
  • Conte noted that hospitals in different areas may face unique levels of stress, depending on how many coronavirus patients need care. As the New York Times notes, health care facilities in Italy's southern region are less sophisticated and financially supported than those in the north.

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