Italy's health minister hints at easing of covid-19 restrictions in May

Protesters across Italy call for covid-19 restrictions to be relaxed.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza has said "it is legitimate to expect reopenings in May" as protests against the ongoing covid-19 restrictions continue across the country.

Speranza has hinted at the significant easing of restrictions in May, reports Italian news agency ANSA, amid increasing demonstrations by workers and business owners in the capital and around Italy.

The protests comprise representatives from a range of sectors including hospitality, entertainment, culture, leisure, sport and tourism.

There have been several demonstrations in Rome in recent days by those involved in the restaurant industry while this morning the capital's Globe Theatre was occupied by workers calling for the safe return of live shows after more than a year.

The country is currently divided between high-risk red zones - where all 'non-essential' shops are closed - and medium-risk orange zones - where shops can open.

However in both red and orange zones bars and restaurants are only permitted to serve takeaway food or provide home deliveries.

There are currently no regions in the lower-risk yellow zones whose restrictions are much less severe and which would also allow for the reopening of the country's museums, closed since 15 March.

Cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and gyms remain closed and a nationwide nightly curfew of 22.00 is still in place.

One option reportedly being studied by the government is allowing restaurants to reopen to customers for both lunch and dinner, availing of outdoor spaces, and moving the curfew to midnight.

Other proposals reported by the Italian media include the gradual, regulated reopening of gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and theatres.

Italy's minister for economic development Giancarlo Giorgetti said that "a decision on the reopening will probably be taken next week by the council of ministers," reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The remarks by Speranza come days after Italy's tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia identified 2 June, Festa della Repubblica, as a "possible" date for the nation to "reopen" substantially in time for the summer season.

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