Italy tiptoes towards post-COVID normality
Italian cafes, restaurants, cinemas and theaters partially reopened in most areas on Monday as part of a gradual spring easing of COVID-19 lockdowns.
“To finish!” Lorenzo Campania, an elderly man from a small village near Rome, said as he ate breakfast seated at an outdoor table near Piazza Venezia in the center of the capital.
Fourteen of the country’s 20 regions have been designated yellow zones, meaning the risk of COVID-19 is relatively low. Five are classified orange and one, Sardinia, red.
In the yellow zones, cafes and restaurants are now allowed to serve customers outside after a near total shutdown of around six weeks.
However, having a quick espresso and a cornetto, the equivalent of a French croissant, standing at the bar – a morning ritual for millions of people – will still be banned for another six weeks.
âPeople really want to come and have their breakfast standing at the bar,â said Loredana Pompeii, owner of a bar in central Rome.
Outdoor amateur contact sports have also been re-authorized. The reopening of swimming pools and gyms will be gradual over the coming weeks, with strict social distancing rules in place.
Theaters, cinemas, museums and cultural heritage sites have reopened, but with a limited capacity of no more than 50 percent for those indoors. Many also demanded online reservations in order to control the flow.
In Milan, a hundred moviegoers celebrated by queuing before dawn in front of the Beltrade cinema for a screening at 6 am of the cult film by director Nanni Moretti in 1993 “Caro Diaro” (Dear Diary).
The Colosseum has reopened for individuals but not for tour groups.
“I hope it will be really a reopening and not some kind of hiccup like last summer,” said Elisabetta Marchi, visiting from Florence.
Italy was the first western country to be hit hard by COVID-19 in early 2020, and health officials have stressed that people should always be careful, wear masks and maintain social distancing.
âIt is also our responsibility,â said Elisabetta Pronti, 57, a civil servant in Rome. “I hope that now that the premises have reopened, that doesn’t mean everyone is free to do whatever they want.”
Some restaurants with outdoor space said they would wait to reopen until June 1, when indoor dining would be allowed.
“It’s risky for us to buy produce, cook, call staff and have everything ready to eat outside and not be able to get inside if it starts to rain,” said Massimmiliano Benedetti, 44, whose family owns Il Ruscello (The Creek). , a restaurant in the Umbrian village of Ceselli.
In the yellow zone, many schools that operated a system where students alternated between classroom days and distance learning days in order to reduce the number of students on site, allowed more students to return.
Like many, Leandro Paparusso, who studies at Isaac Newton Science High School in Rome, was happy to be back behind a desk and he had a wish.
âI hope this virtual learning will not be used after COVID. I hope he was born because of COVID and then dies, âhe said.
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