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LIFE IN ITALY

IN PHOTOS: What ‘living with the coronavirus’ looks like around Italy

As Italy reopens everything from restaurants to churches after more than two months of nationwide lockdown, here's what the new normal looks like around the country.

IN PHOTOS: What 'living with the coronavirus' looks like around Italy
Lunching behind plexiglass barriers in Milan. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called Italy's accelerated exit from lockdown “a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again”.

“We have to accept it otherwise we will never be able to start up again,” he said at the weekend as he announced that local travel restrictions would be dropped, shops allowed to reopen, and restaurants and bars permitted to serve customers again from May 18th.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Italy from May 18th

Two months of almost total shutdown have taken a severe toll on Italy's economy and Italians' daily lives, and the country must find ways to function despite the new coronavirus if it is to begin recovering, the government has said.

For many businesses, that means face masks, social distancing and frequent cleaning will become the norm.

Here's how people were beginning to adapt to the new phase of Italy's coronavirus crisis on May 18th.

Serving coffee in Milan. Cafés, bars and restaurants are once more allowed to serve customers on the premises, but customers must remain at least a metre apart. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

READ ALSO: What are Italy's new rules on going to bars and restaurants?

Socially distanced diners in Rome.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

CALENDAR: What will Italy reopen next under new lockdown rules?

In Venice, gondoliers began offering rides again even though tourists aren't expected to arrive until at least June.

Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from June 3rd?

A woman prays at the Duomo in Milan. Houses of worship reopened for the first time in two months, including for socially distanced religious services.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

READ ALSO: Italian churches resume mass for first time in two months

A hairdresser at work in Rome. Hair salons, barbers and beauty parlours are among some 800,000 businesses allowed to reopen from May 18th.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

A shop in Milan prepares its display. Retailers of all kinds are also allowed to reopen, though staff and customers must wear face masks and disposable gloves to touch merchandise.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

A souvenir shop reopens in Rome.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Checking a customer's temperature at the shop in Milan's fashion district.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Playing volleyball in Ostia near Rome. The capital's mayor has said that sport is allowed on local beaches, but not sunbathing.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Passersby in central Milan. Face masks have become compulsory in all indoor public spaces in Italy, while in some regions they're obligatory everywhere in public.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

READ ALSO: How to wear your coronavirus face mask

Having a drink by the Rialto Bridge in Venice. People are once more allowed to meet up with friends, but must continue to avoid large groups.

Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

 

Socially distanced socializing in Campo di Fiori in Rome.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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