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“Normal” Life Months Away In Italy Despite Easing Of Lockdown

In light of the gradual fall in COVID-19 cases, Italy moved to “slowly, slowly” reopening the country late April after the longest lockdown of two months in Europe. People fear that a second wave of the virus could erupt and be more deadly given the opening of public spaces while “any return to something like normal life is at least months away.”

Businesses, restaurants and shops have been opened and Italian populist PM Conte has been defending the measure despite continued sharp criticism. When asked about his stance recently, he stood by his decision despite the fact that people are still afraid to going out and adjusting to the new normal is snail paced. On the other hand, worries about the huge economic downturn and a “long-lasting clampdown” prevail.

The fact that cannot be ignored is the recent cases of Iran and Sweden which present a cautionary tale. Iran has been witnessing a spike in cases. Sweden, which had been hailed previously to have defeated coronavirus and did not enforce a full lockdown, now has the highest mortality rates in Europe. It may not be too late for Italy to reconsider reopening economy.

According to AlJazeera, “[T]he softly-softly approach has been criticised by businesses, lambasted by the opposition and even questioned by parties within PM Conte’s fragile coalition.” Earlier, the prime minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte had defended easing of lockdown saying, “If I could turn the clock back, I’d do it all again. I cannot let myself be swayed by public opinion, even if I understand those feelings very well myself.”

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Italy has been one of the world’s hardest-hit countries and the highest affected in EU, registering over 32,000 deaths and 228,000 cases since the first coronavirus patient was identified in February. In an effort to bounce back and keep the economy afloat, Italy opened up foregoing the fact that its morgues filled to capacity and several unclaimed dead were buried when the virus was at peak. The pandemic took a staggering toll on the people of Italy.

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Naya Daur