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Italy looks to start reopening in May

An empty street led to the ancient Colosseum, in Rome.
An empty street led to the ancient Colosseum, in Rome.Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

MILAN — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday confirmed that Italy can start reopening on May 4, but he doused any hopes of a total loosening of some of the strictest lockdown measures in a western democracy.

“Many citizens are tired of the efforts that have been made so far and would like a significant loosening of these measures, or even their total abolition," Conte said in a Facebook post, adding that “a decision of that kind would be irresponsible.”

Conte indicated that moves to relax the restrictions would be announced by the end of the week, and that they would take into account the different circumstances among regions.

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Italy’s north, hardest-hit by the virus and the country’s economic engine, has been straining to restart industry after a shutdown of nonessential manufacturing on March 26 — even as some have received permission to reopen with a much-reduced workforce in recent days.

Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia estimates as much as 40% of companies are already working in the region. Conte pointed out that the regions still were not able to keep up with some necessities for a reopening, including masks and gloves, noting that the government had supplied 110 million masks in addition to 3,000 ventilators to hospitals. “It is too easy to say, ‘let’s open everything,” Conte said.