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Italy keeps its 'essential' bookshops open during lockdown restrictions

Italy classifies books as "essential" meaning that bookstores can stay open even in covid-19 red zones.

This morning half of Italy found itself in a maximum-level red zone, under the country's covid-19 restrictions, in what is effectively a return to the lockdown days of this time last year.

The move has led to the closure of all schools, museums, hairdressers, non-essential shops and restaurants in the "zone rosse" until at least 6 April.

Essential services such as foodshops, pharmacies, banks and post offices remain open.

Italy has also classified the country's bookshops as an "essential" service meaning they stay open even in red zones.

For booksellers, opening is optional and the usual anti-covid rules apply, with customers filling in their self-declaration form accordingly.

Bookstores located inside shopping malls are also allowed to open, and bookdealers can continue making home deliveries.

The recognition of books as "essential goods" has been welcomed by Italy's association of booksellers, ALI Confcommercio, which cites Italy as a model at European level.

Cover image Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice. Photo credit: Sun452 /

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