Photos of crowds in Milan's canalside area sitting, walking, or enjoying aperitivo in the sunshine, many without wearing masks or respecting social distancing rules, were splashed over the front pages of Italy's main dailies on Friday, sparking angry comments under the hashtag #navigli on Italian social media.
“Se non passa la cultura della responsabilità passeremo dei guai”. Così Massimo Galli, direttore Malattie Infettive Ospedale Sacco (Milano), in collegamento con Agorà su Rai3, commenta le immagini dei #Navigli pieni di persone. pic.twitter.com/RvSlQDUgps
— Ultime Notizie (@ultimenotizie) May 8, 2020
The city in the northern Lombardy region is at the epicentre of Italy's outbreak, one of the worst in Europe in terms of deaths and infections.
More than 80,000 infections have been recorded in Lombardy – almost 40 percent of Italy's overall cases – according to official data.
Only 33,000 of Lombardy's cases are considered recovered.
The region's capital Milan, is “a bit of a bomb,” said Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at the renowned Sacco hospital in Milan.
“We have a very high number of infected people returning to circulation,” he said in an interview with the La Repubblica newspaper, referring to the easing of lockdown measures on May 4.
Galli said it was clear the easing of the lockdown “may present problems”.
Milan's Mayor Giuseppe Sala slammed the canal-side behaviour as “shameful” and issued an “ultimatum” on social media, threatening to close down the well-known aperitif area of Naviglio if people persist in flouting the rules.
Milan and much of northern Italy was put under lockdown exactly two months ago, days before the rules were rolled out nationwide.
Lombardy has logged some 15,000 deaths, around half of Italy's 30,000 coronavirus fatalities, since the outbreak first erupted in early March.