Bars will be the last businesses to reopen in Italy, top virologist warns

31 March, 2020

Bars and nightclubs will be the last businesses to reopen when Italy’s coronavirus lockdown ends, a leading virologist has warned.

Italy has the largest reported COVID-19 death toll of any country in the world after the virus swept through the Lombardy region. Authorities responded by imposing a strict lockdown in an effort to contain the crisis.

However, the contagion rate is finally starting to drop and politicians are considering reopening schools on May 4 if the trend continues. Each virus sufferer is now infecting just over one other person, down from 2.5 at the height of the outbreak, and if it drops below one the lockdown will be eased off.

However, bars could be last in the queue to reopen. “Bars and nightclubs will be among the very last things to reopen,” said Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist at the University of Milan.

Selected industries may be allowed to resume operations by April 20, according to junior minister Sandra Zampa, with schools potentially opening two weeks later. However, she warned that her predictions could prove wide of the mark if the coronavirus is not contained.

“We need to imagine returning to a life which will be very different,” said Zampa.

She added that buses and trains would need to operate at limited capacity, while older people would be the last age group permitted to return to normal life.

The initial lockdown was due to end on Friday, but it will now continue to at least April 12 after it was extended yesterday. It is almost certain to be extended again, with the governor of Puglia lobbying for restrictions to remain in place until May at the earliest.  

Italy has now reported more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll is approaching 12,000.

Earlier this month, Campari Group donated €1 million to public healthcare institution ASST Fatebenefratelli Sacco in Milan, centre of national excellence in the research and treatment of highly contagious and dangerous diseases.

Campari’s donation will help deal with patients critically affected by Covid-19 by financing an Intensive Care Operational Unit and supply a negative pressures system equipped with 10 resuscitation kits.

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