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COVID-19: Business to reopen in Italy, citizens should soon be allowed to move freely

By Mayank Shukla

Italy is all set to open business for hairdressers from the bar on Monday, while Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government decided to unblock the country’s national borders and allow citizens to move freely within the country from 3 June.

According to a government decree published in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Italians would be allowed full free movement. The statement confirmed that some businesses would reopen on 18 May, while it stopped allowing social ceremonies.

Portugal, Spain, and Greece also relaxed some of their earlier measures, reflecting optimism that the troubled economies of southern Europe could begin to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Conte’s announcement came just hours after Italy fell 262 days before its daily virus-related deaths to 242 on Friday and the number of confirmed new cases was the lowest in four days. Although Italy’s territories were assigned responsibility, the government could reuse sanctions, including local lockdowns, to control any new outbreaks.

Conte, who shut down much of the economy in early March to counter the proliferation of coronoviruses, allowed manufacturers and construction companies to return to full operations earlier this month, while giving the Italians a little more freedom, activities such as walking, jogging and trips were allowed with family and beloved.

The administration on Wednesday approved a second stimulus package of 55 billion euros ($ 59.5 billion) to reduce the economic impact of the epidemic. The plan focuses on liquidity to assist businesses and families suffering from lockdowns. The 25 billion euro package was passed in March.

The European Commission estimates that Italy’s economy will shrink by 9.5% this year, while Bloomberg Economics may see a contraction of 13%. The commission said that with the decline in tax revenue and a dire need for incentives, the country’s huge debt would exceed 150% of GDP.

The Lombardy region, which was most affected by the epidemic, guaranteed the reopening of restaurants, bars, hairdressers and other activities, regional governor Attilio Fontana said in a statement on Saturday.

Portugal, which relies on tourism for about 15% of its economy, plans to reopen the beaches on 6 June, with rules and limitations on crowd size being scrapped, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Lisbon on Friday. Greece will ease restrictions on domestic travel next week, though ferries will only be able to go half-way.

Spain decided to ease about 70% of the population to the second phase of lockdown. Health Minister Salvador Illa said strict clauses are in force for Madrid and Barcelona, ​​although shops in the two big cities will not be required to make appointments to customers.

In the UK, Boris Johnson’s government is locked in an argument with England’s unions on whether primary schools are allowed to reopen on 1 June. Unions want teachers to prioritize testing before entering the classroom, which is supported by a doctors’ union. Schools should remain closed until the number of coronavirus cases decreases. U.K has more than 238,000 confirmed cases, the third highest in the world after the US and Russia.