Article Image

IPFS News Link • Italy

Italy Weighs Steps to Join Europe's Cautious Virus Reopening

• John Follain, Morten Buttler and Rodrigo Orihuela

Italy, the original epicenter of the outbreak on the continent, has begun to plan for emerging from the lockdown as new deaths and cases flatten out. Selected firms could open in mid-April, according to an official familiar with the discussions. Norway will also move to ease restrictions, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Parts of Italy's agribusiness and health sectors, and mechanical-equipment companies linked to these industries, could be allowed to restart operations, but protection for workers will be critical for each company involved, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential talks.

After weeks of measures designed to limit contact between people, European governments are seeing growing evidence that shutting down much of modern life is containing the disease. But the scale of the outbreak in the region means officials need to weigh any attempts to restart parts of the economy against the risk of reigniting the spread.

The difficulty of containing the contagion was underscored by Spain's latest figures. Despite weeks of severe restrictions on public life, Europe's hardest-hit country reported an increase in its daily coronavirus death toll and a bigger rise in the number of confirmed cases.