ROME (Reuters) – Italy is set to allow free travel across the country from June 3, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters on Friday, as the government moves to unwind its coronavirus lockdown and revive the battered economy.
Italy was the first European country to impose rigid nationwide restrictions in March in an effort to halt the disease and is slowly rolling back the curbs as the number of new cases fall.
The draft decree, which is expected to be approved later on Friday but could still be modified ahead of time, said all movement within separate regions would be allowed from May 18, with inter-regional travel bans due to be lifted on June 3.
The end to travel curbs will represent a major milestone on Italy’s road to recovery, with the government hoping to salvage the forthcoming holiday season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks.
The country’s factories were allowed to start up on May 4 and shops are scheduled to reopen on Monday.
The regions can reactivate all sectors of the economy that might still be shuttered, so long as safety protocols are followed. National health authorities will monitor the situation to make sure infections are kept in check, the decree said.
It added that mayors can intervene and close public places if social distancing proved impossible.
Almost 31,400 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the third-highest death toll in the world after that of the United States and Britain.
The number of confirmed cases amounts to 223,096, the fifth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Spain, Britain and Russia.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)