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Confusion as Italy prepares to ease lockdown

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Italy was spending its last day in total lockdown Sunday, but the partial easing of strict coronavirus measures after a two-month shutdown was causing anxiety and confusion rather than elation.

Across the country, attempts to make plans for the first day of freedom were hampered by uncertainty over the rules. The government has a list of permitted activities, but regions are also making up their own regulations.

“I’m hoping this morning’s paper will clear it up. I want to take my old mum to the sea-side, can I?” asked 53-year old cleaner Pietro Garlanti as he queued patiently in the sun at a kiosk in the capital’s historic centre.

In this first stage, Italy’s 60 million inhabitants will be able to move more freely within their own regions, visiting relatives, going to the re-opened parks with their children and going cycling or running further from home.

None of that can be done in groups, however, so big family lunches are forbidden. Going to holiday homes is not allowed. And people cannot leave their own regions, except for emergencies or for health reasons.

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Italy’s 20 regions, however, have put their own spin on the rules. Two of them, Veneto and Calabria, even lifted their lockdowns early, opening to bars and restaurants with outdoor tables this week.

Liguria is thinking about letting people go sailing in small groups, and is reopening its beaches. So is the Marghe region, but for walks not sunbathing. Emilia-Romagna is keeping them closed, even to those who live by the sea.