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The relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Italy from Monday has raised concern, and an expert predicts an increase in infections in the next few weeks.

16 out of 20 Italian regions are now in the “yellow zone” with lower risk, which means bars and restaurants are open until 6pm and people in their regions can travel more freely. The remaining four, including Umbria, Sicily, Apulia and Sardinia, are located in the more restrictive “orange zone”, along with the autonomous province Bolzano.

A curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. remains in place across the country, as does a ban on interregional travel, except for work or emergency reasons.

Italy recorded 237 more coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 88,516 – the second highest in Europe after the UK. There were 11,252 new infections, after highs of over 40,000 in mid-November. The pressure on the hospitals has gradually eased. There are currently 20,397 people in hospital with Covid-19, of which 2,270 are in intensive care (up from over 3,600 in mid-November).

Daily life in Turin when COVID-19 restrictions were decreasing in many parts of Italy, with most of the country now a yellow zone, meaning the risk of contagion is classified as moderate on February 1, 2021. EPA / Tino Romano Photo: Tino Romano / EPA

Children’s and primary schools in Italy reopened in early January, while 50% of students in all regions except Sicily will return to classes from Monday.

Walter Ricciardi, a scientist advising the Ministry of Health, said a lockdown similar to last spring’s was not necessary, but he would prefer it if the whole country were subject to stricter “red zone” restrictions.

Experts were concerned after seeing pictures of crowds on the shopping streets of major cities over the weekend.

Ricciardi predicts that the easing of restrictions “in two to three weeks” will lead to an increase in infections.

“The trend of this epidemic is now predictable,” he added. “It is important to avoid gatherings, but it seems to me that simple suggestions have no effect. If we add the reopening of schools, we will see an increase in cases. “

The government came under pressure to ease restrictions on businesses while teachers and students protested against online learning.

Agostino Miozzo, the coordinator of the scientific body advising the government, said: “A return to a yellow area does not mean a return to normal.”



Robert Dunfee