Italy on Tuesday reported 382 new fatalities from coronavirus, bringing the total number to 27,359, with a new drop in active infections less than a week from an expected relaxation of restrictions. 

Data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department confirmed that the contagion curve is further flattening, as Italian businesses and citizens prepare for a partial restart of activities and a relaxation of the nationwide lockdown starting on May 4.

The tally of active infections fell again from Monday, by 608, and now stands at 105,205.

Meanwhile, recoveries kept rising, jumping to 68,941 as the number of patients in intensive care continues to fall, easing pressure on Italy’s struggling healthcare system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities continue to rise, reaching 13,575, about a half of the country’s total deaths.

As announced by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday, construction and manufacturing will be the first industrial sectors to be allowed to reopen on May 4. However, Conte stressed that stringent safety protocols to protect workers’ health will have to be ensured.

A few strategic and export-oriented firms could already restart this week, provided they get the go-ahead from local authorities.

Strict social distancing rules will continue to apply to individuals, who will be allowed to move from one municipality to another, but not between different regions, except for proven work reasons.

Conte also guaranteed that the price of surgical masks – still very difficult to find – will be fixed by the government at €0.50.

Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s commissioner for the emergency, said on Tuesday that Italians will receive a stock of masks at the fixed €0.50 price, thanks to new production plants able to provide up to 30 million masks by September, when schools are expected to reopen.

Arcuri sharply criticized “libertarian lobbyists and economists” who have attacked the government for having a price ceiling for the masks. He called them “people sipping their vegetarian smoothies on their sofas” while authorities work hard to get affordable masks for everybody.

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