ROME

Italy on Monday reported 333 new fatalities from the coronavirus, bringing the total number to 26,977, and a new drop in active infections.

The data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department confirm that the flattening of the curve continues, as the government finally unveiled its plan to allow a partial restart of business activities from May 4.

The tally of active infections fell by 290 from Sunday, and now stands at 105,813.

Meanwhile, recoveries kept rising, jumping to 66,624 as the number of patients under intensive care continued to fall, easing pressure on Italy’s struggling health care system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities continued to rise, reaching 13,449, more than half of the country’s total deaths.

As announced by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in a press conference on Sunday evening, 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 restart as early as this week, providing they get the go-ahead from local prefects.

Retailers and museums will instead have to wait until May 18 to reopen their doors, while the government aims to reopen bars, restaurants, barber and hairdresser shops on June 1. Schools will only reopen in September.

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 euro.

Many analysts noted that the much-awaited “phase 2” is in reality a “phase 1.5”, which requires practices that will highly complicate business activities and public transportation.

Critics and opposition parties also attacked Conte for failing to provide any guidance on school and education in his statement, leaving families with children facing the emergency alone.

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