Italy has outlined plans to ease tight restrictions it imposed seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures will be relaxed starting May 4 and that people will be allowed to visit relatives in small numbers.
Parks, factories, and construction sites will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September.
It occurs when the country records its lowest number of daily deaths in weeks.
There were 260 new virus-related deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily number since March 14. The total is now 26,644, the highest official figure in Europe.
Italy has confirmed 197,675 cases of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the disease globally.
Other countries such as Switzerland and Spain are also relaxing their measures.
The number of cases in Italy has been declining, and authorities now believe that the contagion rate (the number of people each person infects with the virus) is low enough to warrant cautious curb relief.
Speaking on television, Mr. Conte described how the country would begin “Phase Two” of lifting its coronavirus blockade. The measures include:
People will be allowed to move around their own regions, but not between different regions.
Funerals will resume, but a maximum of 15 people will attend, and ideally they will be held outdoors.
Individual athletes can resume training, and people can play sports not just near their homes but in larger areas
Bars and restaurants will reopen for takeaway service from May 4, not only delivery as now, but food must be consumed at home or in the office
Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars, and restaurants are expected to reopen for dinner service starting June 1.
More retail stores that have not yet opened under the first relaxation measures will reopen on May 18 along with museums and libraries.
Sports teams will also be able to carry out group training from May 18
There was no announcement about the possibility of Series A of Italy’s biggest soccer league being resumed, even behind closed doors.
Conte emphasized that social distancing measures would have to continue for the next few months, and said that religious services would continue to be prohibited. He urged people to stay one meter (3 feet) away from each other.
“If we do not respect precautions, the curve will increase, deaths will increase and we will have irreversible damage to our economy,” said the prime minister. “If you love Italy, keep your distance.”
He also said his government would limit the price of masks to 50 cents.