Italy extends COVID-19 lockdown till May 3

April 11, 2020
Rome: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the country will remain under lockdown until May 3 to contain the coronavirus pandemic, though a small number of businesses will be allowed to re-open next week.

“It is a difficult and necessary decision for which I assume full responsibility,” he said in a televised address on Friday.

Conte had signaled earlier that the containment measures would certainly be extended beyond the original expiration date of April 13, reports Efe news.

And while Italy has had some success in “flattening the curve” of new infections, the nation continues to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths with 18,849.

The Prime Minister did not provide a complete list of the businesses that will be permitted to resume operations starting next Tuesday, mentioning only bookstores and shops selling baby clothes, but media outlets said that forestry companies and factories making farm machinery are likely to be included.

All non-essential businesses were ordered closed a month ago and Italy’s leading employers’ associations have been clamouring for a relaxation of the restrictions.

Conte pointed on Friday to “evident indications” that the measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus “are working”, while insisting on the need to keep restrictions on movement in place for Easter and for the long May Day weekend.

“We cannot jeopardize the sacrifices made because all of the positive results could be lost,” he said, adding that his government’s provisional plan to begin gradually re-opening the economy on May 3 will be implemented only if circumstances permit.

An additional 570 people died of coronavirus overnight, while the number of new infections grew 3,951 to bring the total of active cases to 98,273, Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said Friday.

Both figures represent an improvement from the previous day.

More than two-thirds of the people with active infections are self-isolating at home. Italian hospitals are treating 28,242 COVID-19 patients, including 3,497 in intensive care.

The overall number of confirmed cases now stands at 147,577.IANS