Rome postpones reopening of bookshops

Italian government had authorised reopening of bookshops from 14 April.

Rome bookshops will not reopen as expected on 14 April but will instead be permitted to reopen on 20 April, following an order issued by the Lazio region of Italy, which includes the capital.

The delay is to allow time to ensure that bookshops in Lazio have the necessary safety measures in place before they open their doors again.

The reopening of Italy's bookshops from 14 April was announced by Italian premier Giuseppe Conte who confirmed that the nationwide quarantine and travel restrictions - in place to combat the country's Coronavirus emergency - would remain in effect until 3 May.

Bookshops were among a handful of exceptions - along with stationery stores and shops selling clothes for children and babies - that could reopen early however in several regions they will not reopen on 14 April.

Bookshops in the northern region of Lombardy, which includes Milan, and the southern region of Campania, which includes Naples, will not reopen until after 3 May.

In the case of Lazio, the regional councillor for economic development Paolo Orneli said: "We want bookstores to reopen, but this must be done with the absolute safety of workers and customers: this is why we are in contact with bookstore associations, both independent and those belonging to large chains, to agree with them, in the coming days, the most appropriate ways to resume public sales activities in our region."

There has been mixed reaction from bookshop owners, some of whom believe the timing and conditions may not be right to reopen yet.

However Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini welcomed the move, saying it was "not a symbolic gesture" but rather recognition of the "essential" nature of books.

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