Coronavirus: Italy set to relax evening curfew from next week as health data improves

Coronavirus: Italy set to relax evening curfew from next week as health data improves
There have been increasing calls for the evening curfew to be scrapped since Italy's bars and restaurants reopened for outdoor service in April. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The Italian government on Monday is debating which coronavirus containment measures to relax next as the country's health data continues to show improvement.

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Italy’s prime minister has proposed pushing the nationwide evening curfew back to 11pm from next week and then to midnight from June 7th, before scrapping it altogether by June 21st.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi made the recommendation as Italian health experts and government ministers met on Monday afternoon to discuss which of the current coronavirus restrictions to soften next, and by how much, after further improvements to the health data.

ANALYSIS: Will Italy really be able to lift most of its Covid-19 restrictions in June?

Proposals from the meeting will go to the Council of Ministers on Monday evening for approval.

The nightly 10pm curfew, aimed at limiting socialising which could further spread the virus, is one of Italy’s most hotly contested containment measures – especially now that restaurants have been allowed to open for dinner.

Ministers and political parties have been debating for weeks whether the curfew should be pushed back to 11pm or midnight or scrapped completely.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI/AFP

Other updates to the rules expected to come from the meeting on Monday include possible new dates for the reopening of gyms and indoor swimming pools.

The government is also thought to be looking at guidelines allowing wedding receptions to go ahead this summer.

While Draghi has advised couples planning their big day to “be patient”, there is speculation that receptions will be allowed from mid-June, depending on local health data.

Guests will have to sit outdoors, maintain social distance and wear face masks, according to safety guidelines already agreed upon with regional authorities.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re exhausted’: What it’s like planning a wedding in Italy during the pandemic

Rule changes would likely come into force next week, with Italian media reports stating that they’d take effect from Monday, May 24th.

A decree providing for further loosening of the rules should be confirmed by Friday May 21st, the day Italy’s health watchdog releases its next weekly report.

The government wants to wait until it has more information on the effects of the first round of reopenings, which began in some parts of Italy on April 26th.

Data from that period won’t be available until the next health monitoring report on Friday, according to the president of the Higher Health Institute Franco Locatelli.

Italy on Sunday registered fewer than 6,000 new cases while the number of deaths in a day was under the 100 mark for the first time since October.

While the reported numbers are always lower on Sundays and Mondays, this continues the steady downward trend of recent months.

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