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Bars, restaurants and shops reopen in Italy as lockdown measures are eased across Europe

Restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and shops have reopened, subject to social distancing measures, after more than two months of lockdown

A reopened bar in the Trastevere district of Rome
A reopened bar in the Trastevere district of Rome Credit: Getty

2020欧洲杯网站Italians savoured the cherished ritual of enjoying a cappuccino or espresso at the counter of a bar on Monday as the country took a big step forward in easing its 10-week lockdown.

2020欧洲杯网站Bars, restaurants and shops were allowed to reopen on Monday, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons.  

2020欧洲杯网站Although takeaway coffee has been allowed since May 4, it was the first time that Italians could relish their daily dose of caffeine inside a bar or café since the coronavirus pandemic prompted the world’s first national lockdown in early March.

2020欧洲杯网站“It’s the first time we’ve been allowed inside cafes. It feels almost like normal. People are outside, the city is busy,” said Erica Firpo, a travel writer who lives in Rome.

2020欧洲杯网站In Largo dei Librari, a triangular piazza consisting of a tiny church hemmed in by medieval townhouses in the historic centre of the capital, elderly men sat at outside tables, enjoying the sunshine.

Outdoor seating at a bar in Ancona on the Adriatic coast of Italy Credit: Shutterstock

2020欧洲杯网站In Via dei Coronari, an elegant street known for its antique shops, the silence of the last eight weeks was replaced by shops pulling up their metal shutters and bars putting out chairs and tables.

Most people remained vigilant, heeding warnings from the government and scientists that it will not be possible to return to normal for some time.

“I would say about 60 per cent of people are wearing masks, including lots of little kids. The pavements are busier but people are trying to keep their distance from each other,” said Ms Firpo.

Across the country, restaurants put out tables, carefully measuring the 2 metre (6ft) distance between them to conform to safety protocols, and shop owners disinfected their premises.

Notices in bars reminded customers to keep at least a metre apart while beauty centres reopened with plexiglass screens separating clients.

“There are more cars on the streets, that’s for sure,” said Giulia Martinelli, a television producer. “The bar near my apartment opened this morning but it’s so small that only one person at a time is allowed inside. It feels a bit like we are gradually returning to normality.”

A hairdressing salon in Rome was one of thousands which reopened Credit: AP

2020欧洲杯网站As long as people are moving around within their own region, they no longer need to fill out a form explaining where they are going and for what reason.

Travel between the country’s regions, unless necessary for work or health reasons, is banned until June 3.

Also on that day, Italy’s borders will be opened up to the rest of Europe, including Britain.

Beaches reopened in Sardinia, along the Adriatic and along the Italian Riviera in Liguria, with sun-worshippers told to stay at least one metre apart.

Italy will be ready to welcome back European tourists in early June, said Luigi Di Maio, the foreign minister.

Hairdressers did brisk business, with clients desperate for a trim after two months of either letting their hair grow or relying on family members for a cut, with decidedly mixed results.

"I already have 150 appointments, all very urgent, all of them insisting that they must be first on the list," Stefania Ziggiotto, a hairdresser in the Alpine resort of Courmayeur, told Reuters. "I have a full agenda for three weeks."

Celebrating the reopening of a beach at Mondello near Palermo, Sicily Credit: Shutterstock

With the government’s scientific advisers warning of the dangers of a second wave of Covid-19 infections if people lower their guard, Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, said the decision to allow restaurants and bars to reopen was a “calculated risk”.

Since the outbreak was detected in Italy in late February, nearly 32,000 people have died from the virus – the third highest death toll after the US and Britain.

On Sunday, Italy recorded 145 new deaths, the lowest figure since March 9, when the lockdown was imposed.

After weeks in which priests had to preach to empty churches and livestream the services to their congregations on social media, churches reopened.

That included St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, where visitors had their temperatures taken by police wearing face masks before being allowed to enter the vast basilica, designed by Bernini, Bramante and Michelangelo.

The Pope broadcast a private mass from beside the tomb of John Paul II, beneath St Peter’s, on the 100th anniversary of the Polish pontiff’s birth.

In Venice, gondoliers took to the canals again but in the absence of international tourists, had to be content with ferrying a few locals from one bank to the other.

2020欧洲杯网站On board the distinctive craft, tape was used to indicate the distance that passengers should maintain from one another.

2020欧洲杯网站Elsewhere in Europe, restaurants and cafes reopened in Portugal and Poland, while primary and secondary schools reopened in Belgium, and the Acropolis in Athens welcomed its first tourists for weeks.

Spain was split into three categories on Monday as the government continued to effect its “gradual and asymmetrical” lifting of what has been one of Europe’s strictest Covid-19 lockdowns.

While 70 per cent of Spaniards found themselves in phase 1 and able to enjoy post-lockdown freedom of movement within their home areas, residents of Madrid and Barcelona remained on the starting line of the de-escalation process.

2020欧洲杯网站Meanwhile, three Canary islands – El Hierro, La Graciosa and La Gomera – and Formentera in the Balearics entered phase 2, meaning that bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres can open.   

2020欧洲杯网站As a concession for being stuck on ‘phase 0’, Barcelona and Madrid residents were allowed to access some public spaces on Monday, with shopsup to 400 square metres opening their doors for the first time in two months.

Business association Pimec Comerç said that 90 per cent of Catalonia’s small shops were doing business on Monday. “We’re happy that these establishments can open normally after 60 days,” said the president, Àlex Goñi.

But the organisation Barcelona Oberta has calculated that one-third of the city’s tourism-related businesses will not open again due to the crippling economic cost of more than two months of lockdown.

Nearly 28,000 people have died of the virus in Spain out of 231,000 cases.

A week after France eased lockdown restrictions, many French shop assistants are frustrated at having to deal with irascible customers who refuse to wear masks, use hand gel or maintain social distancing.

2020欧洲杯网站“I dread going to work each morning,” said Patricia, 29, who works in a Paris gift shop. “Customers call us names. They tell us we’re stupid, incompetent and shouldn’t be giving them orders when we ask them to wear face-masks inside the shop or use hand gel.”

2020欧洲杯网站Many supermarkets have stationed burly security guards at their entrances, who ensure that customers use hand gel as they come in. “They don’t get as much abuse as we do because customers are scared to insult them,” Patricia told the Telegraph.

Estelle, 26, who works in a well-known international clothing store, said: “Some customers started screaming at me when I asked them to wear face-masks. Others laugh and joke that they don’t want to get caught disobeying the shop assistant. I feel like a schoolteacher with a bunch of naughty kids, but when you’ve got an angry adult shouting at you, it’s really intimidating.” 

2020欧洲杯网站She said she feels “like a punch ball for customers” and broke down in tears after her first day back at work. “For two months I just wanted lockdown to end, but now I’m not so sure.”

2020欧洲杯网站Tiphaine, 35, who works in a Paris shoe shop, said customers resented having to queue before coming in, to allow social distancing. “They don’t seem to realise how serious the situation is, or the risks we’re taking by working here. Some of them joke about how a little virus won’t kill them.”

Parisians have a reputation for rudeness, but French newspapers report similar complaints from shop assistants across the country.