This week, Italy inaugurated the much-anticipated Phase Two in the fight against Covid-19. While it is too early to estimate whether the loosening of the lockdown rules has impacted the spread of the virus at all, there is no doubt that the curve has been thoroughly flattened over the past two months. The Country is now recording under 2000 new positive cases per day (roughly the same rate as Germany) and under 300 deaths per day. At over 215k cases from the beginning of the pandemic, Italy ranks third both in total cases and comprehensive death toll. There are currently just under 90k active cases of Covid-19 in the Country, and over 96k have successfully recovered.
Phase 2 is go: what you can and can’t do in Italy right now
The main focus of this second phase in the fight against Covid-19 was the re-starting of the national economy, which has been badly hit by this crisis. Most workplaces have reopened on Monday – except for restaurants, pubs, hair salons, spas, schools, event venues, and a handful of other activities whose specific characteristics make it impossible to maintain the required personal distance. Italians are now permitted to go jogging beyond the 200mt-from-home limit, individual sports can be practiced outdoors, and it is possible to visit close relations (a measure which has sparked some doubts in the population for being at the same time too lax, too strict, and too generic).
Implementing safety measures to keep up the fight against Covid-19
Shops and bars have had to make significant changes to the way they serve their clients. Access to the premises can be allowed for a limited number of people at a time in order guarantee social distancing at all times. The use of masks is compulsory indoors and cashiers and counters have to be protected by anti-sneeze barriers. Bars and restaurants are open, but they are only allowed to provide takeaway or delivery services. Travel is currently allowed exclusively within the same region, unless there are provable reasons falling into a limited number of approved categories (inevitable work commitments, health reasons, and emergencies). Funerals are being held again, with a maximum of 15 attendees.
What happens next
Careful monitoring is underway and in a week we will know whether the containment measures can be loosened further or need to be tightened again. The lack of swabs for testing has been solved and Italy is now testing on average 60k people a day (with a positive/tested ratio of under 3%). If the situation remains under control throughout the next week, more shops will open, as well as hair and nail salons. The ultimate weapon in the fight against Covid-19, of course, will be the vaccine, which several international research teams are currently working on. Italian hospitals and research centres, however, have been testing different therapies and so far the number of patients needing intensive care or even hospital treatment has been dropping constantly for over two weeks. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are beginning to see the occasional ray of sunshine getting through. And we are grateful for that.