Italians back on the street sipping cappuccino, gulping cold beer as country seeks tourism revival

Colosseum flavian amphitheatre italy

Italy has opened its churches, cafes, restaurants and bars, as it continues to relax its lockdown rules. Italians are once again out in the open, sipping cappuccino and gulping down cold beers, while of course keeping away from other customers as part of social distancing norms.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said gyms and cinemas would soon be able to welcome the public again, as the government seeks to restart economic activity.

“We’re facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again,” Conte said during a televised address. “We have to accept it otherwise we will never be able to start up again.”

Conte enforced an economically crippling shutdown in early March to counter a pandemic that has so far killed nearly 32,000 people in Italy.

The shutdown halted all holidaymaking in a country heavily dependent on the tourism industry.

But now, things are returning to normal, or at least that’s what the government wants. St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican is open for visitors and there are reports that people queued up for the first time since March 10. Police officers wearing face masks checked temperatures before allowing them to enter. Masses in churches across Rome also resumed. Worshippers sat apart on disinfected pews, news agency Reuters reported.

In Venice gondoliers wearing face masks ferried passengers along the Grand Canal, while mothers with small children sat in cafes overlooking the Rialto. Clients in Milan got their hair done, while local markets in the city of Salerno reopened, the report said.

Italy’s economy has shrunk by 10%, and is seeking a revival.