Italy has begun easing its strict coronavirus lockdown orders to allow people to return to shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
The country was the epicentre of Europe’s Covid-19 outbreak and has suffered a death toll of more than 30,000 people.
But, after more than two months of a enforced lockdown, the Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said it was time to being the process of restarting the country’s economy.
Shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and museums are among the business and cultural activities that resumed from today.
Gyms and swimming pools can reopen next week, while travel between regions and into Italy from abroad will be permitted from June 3.
The Chief Executive of Milan’s Rinascente department store Pierluigi Cocchini said it was difficult to product how keen shoppers would be to return to store after weeks of isolation.
He said: “The hope is to take a step towards normality.
“It won’t be business as usual given all the protocols, but this is the new normal for now and we have to accept it.”
Guards at the department store will keep count through an app of how many people are in the store at any one time.
Clothes tried on in changing rooms will be quarantined for 24 hours and shop assistants will spill perfumes on paper tissues rather than having customers handle testers.
The store is reopening with markdowns of up to 60 per cent because like many retailers, it needs to clear unsold stocks.
In early March, there were reports that Italian hospitals were overwhelmed with coronavirus cases as millions were raised to support the efforts of doctors on the frontline of the outbreak.
Italian officials say the country has a death toll of 31,763, the third highest figure behind the US and the UK.
Premier Giuseppe Conte acknowledged reopening the economy brings a risk of new outbreaks of coronavirus, but said “we must accept it”.
He said the nationwide lockdown that began in early March had brought “the expected results”, putting the country in a position to expand economic activity in the second phase of reopening.
“We’re facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again,” said Mr Conte.
“We have to accept it otherwise we will never be able to start up again.”
He added that an extensive monitoring system is in place and the government will intervene to close areas if there are new outbreaks.