In Italy, ‘A Fantastic Feeling’ as Normalcy Returns
As a downward trend for both coronavirus fatalities and new confirmed cases continues, Italy has entered Phase Three with the reopening of nearly all businesses and activities. With the country having suffered more than 34,000 deaths from COVID-19 and no vaccine yet available, cautionary measures and rules on how to behave mainly in closed spaces are expected to be around for some time.Italy, an early epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, has been gradually re-opening over the past few weeks. When it started to come out of its tight lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the months ahead would largely depend on the behavior of Italians and did not rule out future lockdowns if new clusters emerged. Prime minister Giuseppe Conte wears a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he arrives to address parliament on the next European Council meeting, in Rome, June 17, 2020.Italians are aware the virus has not been completely defeated yet and many appear to understand they still need to follow certain rules.Posters and signs remind customers at stores and public spaces about the need to maintain social distancing, wear protective masks and sanitize one’s hands. In some places, such as airports, there are temperature checks and people with more than 37.5 Celsius must return to their homes. After a lockdown that seemed to never end, many Italians appear happy to comply with the regulations.To the joy of many, the latest businesses to reopen this week were cinemas and theaters. No more than 200 people can enter closed venues and at outdoor events there can be a maximum of 1,000.For many, the reopening of movie theaters was an emotional moment. A young Rome resident, who went back to the cinema as soon as it re-opened its doors, said that it was a fantastic feeling because after months at home watching TV, being able to watch a movie on the big screen eating warm popcorn is priceless.Young people especially are ready for summer fun, as nightclubs and discos also re-opened, but club owners are expressing concerns that it will be very difficult to enforce some of the rules that include customers having to dance one meter apart.Examiners wear face shields and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, during end of year secondary school exams at high school Liceo Kennedy, in Rome, June 17, 2020.Large-scale gatherings of all kinds are still banned, but amateur contact sports will resume from June 25th and schools are expected to reopen in September.Coronavirus border restrictions have been easing throughout Europe. By Wednesday, only travelers from outside the European Union were still being required to quarantine upon arriving in Italy.