Italy speeds up reopening with cafes and restaurants allowed to open on May 18th

Italy speeds up reopening with cafes and restaurants allowed to open on May 18th
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Regional governments will be allowed to reopen bars, restaurants, hairdressers, barbers and beauty parlours to open from Monday, May 18th after the national government gave local authorities the go-ahead on Monday morning.

The government agreed to demands from regions for an acceleration of phase two of Ithe lockdown at a meeting of regional leaders, Italian media reports.

These businesses were not set to get the green light to open until at least June 1st under the previous plan.

But now they'll be allowed to open on Monday, when Italy's other shops are set to reopen.

“This is the start of the phase of regional responsibilty,” said Francesco Boccia. , the minister for autonomy and regional affairs.

The governors of ten regions – Abruzzo, Calabria, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Molise, Piedmont, Sardinia, Umbria and Veneto, as well as the president of Trentino province – had warned they would “act autonomously” if Rome failed to confirm that they can reopen shops, restaurants, salons and beaches as soon the current decree expires on May 17th.

The government has also faced pressure from business groups and protests by business owners in squares and streets around the country.

READ ALSO: Italy considers reopening shops earlier following protests

 

There's no plan yet to reopen regional borders and allow people to travel freely around Italy; this is reportedly still under discussion by national and regional authorities.

Restaurants and bars are currently allowed to open for takeaway orders, and in many regions they've been allowed to remain open for home delivery throughout lockdown.

And in some parts of Italy, you can already go to the hairdresser, as lockdown rules already vary widely between regions.

Each of Italy's 20 regions has its own government, and each of those has the power to adapt national lockdown rules within their own territory.

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During phase one of Italy's coronavirus lockdown, regional governors mostly used those powers to tighten restrictions – for example by upping the maximum fine for rule-breaking, or setting stricter limits on exercise.
 
But now, some local governments are opting to relax the rules faster than the central government has advised, even though ministers in Rome have warned them against it.
 
The government can intervene and enforce tougher restrictions if there's an increase in contagion following the restriction of the rules. Regional governors are required to communicate daily with the Health Ministry.

It remains too early for the official data to confirm whether the infection rate continued to drop following the easing of some restrictions on May 4.


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