Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday 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.
In a televised addressed, Conte said, “It is a difficult and necessary decision for which I assume full responsibility”.
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.
Conte also noted “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, according to the Italy’s Civil Protection Agency.
The overall number of confirmed cases now stands at 147,577.
The shutdown was initially meant to last until April 13, but chances that any significant easing would take place was deemed as virtually non-existent.
The global death toll from the coronavirus topped 100,000, according to the report.
China’s Wuhan city, where the pandemic began, is still testing residents regularly despite relaxing its tough two-month lockdown.
China has also ordered all hotels in the capital Beijing to ensure all guests provide negative coronavirus report. Beijing will require all arrivals to provide a negative nucleic acid report and green health code before checking in to hotels starting Sunday.