ROME – A province in northern Italy has sped up the easing of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, defying government measures for a gradual reopening.
Retail stores in Alto Adige can open their doors from Friday, with bars, restaurants, hairdressers, museums and cultural centers able to resume activities from Monday.
Primary schools and nurseries in the region are set to welcome students back from May 18.
The almost total restarting of activities was approved on Thursday night by the provincial council and goes against the Italian government’s plan, which would not see shops reopen before May 18.
This two-week delay was deemed necessary to evaluate the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths after the first phase of reopening started on May 3.
Regional governor Arno Kompatscher said: “After Rome did not listen for weeks to requests for a regional differentiation of measures we decided to embark on our autonomous legislative path.”
Authorities in the province deployed their autonomous powers to make the decision.
The new measure also sets out a gradual resumption of freedom of movement between provinces and with hotels, cable cars of the ski resorts to open from May 25.
Nurseries will be able to reopen from May 18 with smaller groups, a maximum of four children per room in kindergartens and six in primary schools, for half a day and without a meal service.
Secondary schools can offer educational consulting services to students in their buildings, provided that groups are made up of a maximum of six students, at a distance of at least two meters from each other.
Kompatscher said: “The crisis has been a huge challenge for many, from families to businesses, and the coming weeks will continue to be difficult.
“We put safety and a sense of community at the center.
“This phase and the restart can only take place if everyone adheres to the rules.
“Therefore, we trust in the self-discipline and sense of responsibility of the citizens.”
Restaurants and bars have been told to arrange tables so there is a two-meter distance between customers and staff must wear masks.
Travel to other regions, school and university classes and sporting events will continue to apply to the national regulations.
Some regions sent a letter to the government on Thursday asking it to relax the measures and allow retail stores and other activities to restart.
Authorities in the provinces of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria and Veneto have also announced they will allow some shops and businesses to reopen from Monday.