Millions of people were allowed to return to work in Italy on May 4 as Europes longest CCP virus lockdown started to ease, while the United States took halting steps to lift some of its own restrictions even as tens of thousands of new cases were reported every day.
In Washington, the Senate was convening for the first time since March, while dozens of people in Florida were waiting before sunrise for the 7 a.m. opening of Clearwater Beach. In South Dakota, a pork processing plant took its first steps toward reopening after being shuttered after more than 800 employees were infected with CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Louisiana lawmakers were also restarting their legislature—even as they feuded over whether they should return at all.
Political battles have become increasingly embedded in CCP virus policy in the United States. In Louisiana, Republican legislators irritated by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards decision to extend Louisianas stay-at-home order through May 15 were eager to return to work.
But Democrats saw things differently: “It could be a devastating blow to the strides made and to the safety of our residents, our staff and members if we returned to business as usual prematurely,” Democratic leaders wrote in a letter.
More than 29,000 people in Louisiana have tested positive for the CCP virus, and 1,969 people have died, according to state health department data released Sunday. The true number of infections is thought to be far higher.
With pressure growing in many countries for more measures to restart the economy, politicians also were trying to boost funding for research into a vaccine for COVID-19. There are hopes that one could be available in months, but many scientists warn it could take much longer.
Italy, the first European country hit by the pandemic and a nation with one of the worlds highest death tolls, started stirring after its two-month shutdown. In all, 4.4 million Italians were able to return to work, and restrictions on movement eased.
Traffic in downtown Rome picked up, construction sites and manufacturing operations resumed, parks reopened, and flower vendors returned to the Campo dei Fiori market for the first time since March 11.
“Its something that brings happiness and joy, and people have been missing that these days,” vendor Stefano Fulvi said. He doesnt expect to break even anytime soon, “but you have to take the risk at some point.”
But Europeans new-found freedoms are limited as officials are wary of setting off a second wave of infections.
In Italy, mourners were able to attend funerals, but services were limited to 15 people and there was still no word on when Masses will resume. Restaurants scrubbed their floors in preparation for take-out service, but sit-down service was several weeks away.
Southern Italy braced for the return of students and workers who were trapped in the hard-hit north when the lockdown took effect. Some regional governors said they would require anyone arriving home to go into quarantine for two weeks.
“Its a new page that we must write together, with trust and responsibility,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said in a message to Italians.
Belgium allowed some companies to open offices to employees, though remote work was still encouraged. Like Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, and many others in Europe, Belgians were told to wear masks on public transport.
Italians still have to carry certifications explaining why they are out. Greece, which began lifting its seven-week lockdown Monday, dropped a similar requirement for people to send a text message or carry a self-written permit justifying being outdoors.
People in hard-hit Spain ventured out for the first time for haircuts or food take-outs, but many small shops were still closed as owners worked on meeting strict health and hygiene guidelines. Neighboring Portugal also eased its confinement measures and allowed small stores to open.
On Europes western edge, Iceland reopened many of its businesses after the country tamed its CCP virus outbreak.
In the Middle East, Lebanon was allowing restaurants to open at 30 percent capacity during the day starting Monday. But many business owners said they wont reopen because they would be losing more money if they operate under such restrictions in a faltering economy. Cafes, clubs, and bars have been ordered to stay shut through June.
India allowed some economic activities to resume after a five-week halt, even as the pace of infections has slightly accelerated. The lockdown has achieved a slowdown in the spread of the CCP virus but has caused immense hardship for Indias poor.