Coronavirus: Italy prepares for Phase Two

Phase 2 could begin on 4 May but Italy's schools may not reopen until autumn.

The second phase in Italy's Coronavirus emergency could last between "six and eight months", an Italian health expert warned on 8 April, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The government is currently in talks with its panel of medical experts as it draws up Phase Two of the nationwide lockdown - termed as "living with the virus" - which is expected to see a gradual loosening of stringent restrictions in relation to production, particularly regarding strategic supply chains involving food, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

The government will reportedly hold discussions with representatives of the business sector and trade unions on 9 April with a view to mapping out how and when to start getting companies back to work.

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The current lockdown measures are in place until 13 April and in recent days Italy's Coronavirus curve has started to descend.

If this positive trend continues in the coming days it could allow some minimal relaunch of industrial activity, respecting social distancing measures, from 14 April, reports Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Italy's small and medium-sized businesses face failure unless they resume work in May, the head of small business group Confindustria, Carlo Robiglio, told ANSA, adding: “If we go beyond the summer with restrictions of this type, the risks become extremely heavy.”

The loosening of quarantine measures for the general population, maintaining strict social distancing, could be introduced from 4 May, according to speculation in the Italian media, however nothing is certain yet.

Smart working is expected to be strongly encouraged, while there would be alternate shifts for those who gradually return to offices, reports Il Sole 24 Ore, however it is unlikely that restaurants, bars or parks will reopen any time soon.

ANSA reports that schools in Italy are expected to reopen in September, but only for "online revision."

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Physicist Alessandro Vespignani was quoted by Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano as saying: "It will be a summer with planes and without travel. We will not return to full normality by July or August", adding that “it is a process I see lasting for the next six to eight months.”

And despite an encouraging fall in new cases of people being hospitalised for Coronavirus, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte continues to urge caution.

In an video-interview with German magazine Bild, Conte stressed that scientists have advised against lifting restrictions too quickly for fear of sparking new outbreaks, while ANSA quotes Rome university physicist Federico Ricci Tersenghi as saying that the infection curve is not falling in some regions of Italy.

"The situation is and remains very serious. And it cannot be underestimated. We are in the middle of a battle" - warned Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza on 7 April - "The only weapon we have is ocial distancing, of respecting the rules. We must not think that we have already won the war."

Photo credit: Em Campos /