Italy will announce before the end of this week its plans for the gradual reopening from a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus emergency that will be applied starting from May 4, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.
Italy, which has declared more coronavirus deaths than any other European country, has been under national quarantine since March 9, with some regions imposing lock-downs even earlier.
The quarantine period, which has been extended twice, is due to expire on May 3.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is caught between trying to avoid a fresh spike in infections of the virus - which has killed over 24,000 people in Italy - while avoiding additional damage to the economy.
“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning ... But such a decision would be irresponsible. It would make the contagion curve go up in an uncontrolled way and would nullify all the efforts we have made so far,” Conte wrote in a Facebook post.
“We must act on the basis of a national (reopening) plan, which however takes into account the territorial peculiarities,” he added.
“We have to reopen on the basis of policy that takes into consideration all the details and cuts across all the data. A serious policy, scientific,” Conte wrote.
In an example, he cited how, in allowing businesses to reopen, officials needed to consider how workers would get to and from work, in order to avoid congestion which could open the door to new contagion.
Coronavirus has killed more than 24,000 people in Italy, and the country has 181,228 cases.