Italy allows bars to reopen following coronavirus lockdown

19 May, 2020

Bars have reopened across Italy after the government eased lockdown restrictions that have paralysed the economy over the past 10 weeks.

Italians no longer require a certificate to be outside and they can now visit bars, cafes and restaurants if they maintain a safe distance from one another.

“It’s a beautiful, exciting day,” said Valentino Casanova, a barman at Caffe Canova in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo after returning to work for the first time in two-and-a-half months.

Italy was the first European country to suffer a major Covid-19 outbreak and it responded with a strict lockdown in early March.

Factories and parks were allowed to reopen on May 5, but the majority of the restrictions remained in place until this week.

The Italian economy now faces the fight of its life. It contracted by 4.7% in the first quarter of 2020, plunging the country into recession, and it is expected to decrease further in the second quarter of the year following a collapse in industrial production and tourism.

The Treasury predicts the economy will shrink by at least 8% this year, the deepest recession since World War II, with a double-digit deficit ratio now a likely prospect.

The government is desperate to speed up recovery efforts, so it made large concessions this week. Hairdressers joined on-trade establishments in throwing open their doors for the first time in 10 weeks, while Italians flocked to public squares and shopping districts.

Now all they need is a few customers. “We’re very used to staying at home, so seeing people again is a strange thing,” said barman David Silvestri. “The only thing missing is the people.”

Angelo Lombardo, owner of Cocco Caffe in Bologna, criticised the government for failing to clearly communicate the rule changes to the public, causing his establishment to remain empty.

“A lot of people are just walking past and looking in from outside wondering whether they can come in or not,” he told Reuters, before adding: “Let’s give it time. It’s the first day.”

Spain Denmark and Portugal also allowed bars and restaurants to reopen, following in the footsteps of Germany.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.