“On Monday, Phase Two begins. We have to be aware that it will be the start of an even bigger challenge,” Arcuri said.
After a two-month shut down to combat a virus that has killed over 28,000 people, Italians will be allowed to stroll in parks and visit relatives. Restaurants can open for takeout and wholesale stores can resume business.
Scientists will be closely monitoring the virus contagion rate as the lockdown lifts and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said it may be reintroduced in locally if the numbers begin to rise significantly again.
Arcuri confirmed the “relative freedom” Italians were about to win could be taken away again for health reasons.
“We must maintain social distancing, maximum hygiene levels, and masks. We've done our bit to the best of our ability. From Monday, it's up to you,” he said at a press conference.
“I implore you, do not lower your guards.”
Some 150,000 people will have their blood tested next week for the new coronavirus as authorities attempt to get a clearer picture of its spread as the lockdown eases. Those tests were expected to begin Monday.
Arcuri said the government had also bought over five million swabs to be distributed to the regions.
Masks costing just 50 cents due to a cap set by the government would go on sale in 50,000 shops, from pharmacies to tobacconists, starting Monday. That figure would rise to 100,000 shops by mid month.
Italy would be producing four million masks a day by mid June, 25 million by mid July and 35 million by mid August, Arcuri said.