Mixed reception to Italy's easing of virus lockdown 1

Mixed reception to Italy’s easing of virus lockdown

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Rome: Italy allows bookstores and children ’s clothing retailers to reopen on Tuesday, but some business owners choose to build their cars behind closed doors, worried that it is too early to lift the coronavirus blockade.

Laundries and stationery stores also reopened on Tuesday as the government tried to phase out the strict blockade measures imposed on March 9.

However, not every shop owner is eager to reopen.

“Open in a desert? Why? A bookstore is a place where people interact — opening a business where no one walks by is dangerous from every point of view,” said Cristina Di Caio, a bookshop owner in Milan.

Italy is one of the world s worst-hit countries, with more than 20,000 deaths — the second most after the US.

The pandemic and lockdown measures have crippled its economy and brought daily life to a standstill.

Most of the country s 60 million people have been confined to their homes and most shops other than pharmacies and supermarkets have been shut.

Though the central government said some shops could resume work, officials in hard-hit northern regions including Lombardy and Piedmont refused to resume business.

Shops there would stay shut until May 3, when the countrywide quarantine is set to expire.

Lombardy is the epicentre of the outbreak, with nearly 11,000 deaths.

Opening shops “is absurd”, said the president of Piedmont, Alberto Cirio.

“I m working on keeping people at home,” he said.

“Maintaining discipline is the only way not to waste the sacrifices made up until now.”

But in the south, which has seen fewer deaths and infections, some shops welcomed the easing of restrictions.

At a bookshop in the Sicilian city of Syracuse, the usual tourists were gone but some loyal clients stopped by for the opening, entering one at a time.

“It was still like a party,” said owner Marilia Di Giovanni. “It s the human dimension that s started back up again.”

The World Health Organization has warned countries not to open their economies too much to avoid a pandemic that has killed 120,000 people worldwide.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted on Tuesday that this would be the worst global recession in a century and predicted that Italy ’s economic growth would decline by 9.1% this year.

Before closing, the bookstore was in trouble and was hurt by competition from online retailers.

Some bookstore owners are angry that they have been ordered to close, but they are allowed to continue to deliver books from online sellers.

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