ROME

Italy on Monday reported 99 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 32,007 with the lowest increase since the first phase of the contagion in early March.

After two months of strict lockdown, citizens and businesses restarted a more regular life, as restaurants, bars and shops reopened their doors.

Data released by the country’s Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind. The tally of active infections on Monday fell by 1,798, placing the total at 66,553.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 127,326, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy’s overwhelmed health care system.=

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities have kept rising to reach 15,543, almost half of the country’s total deaths.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte explained that the new, softer rules can be changed again if the curve of contagions show a new rise.

“We are facing a calculated risk. I have to admit, very clearly, that the curve could go up again,” the premier said on Saturday.

However, he added: “We have to accept it, otherwise we will never be able to start up again.”

Conte stressed the lockdown rules will be relaxed gradually to avoid a second wave of contagions.

Restaurants have to ensure a distance of at least 1 meter (3.2 feet) between customers who will be obliged to make reservations. Business owners are also requested to keep records of the reservations for at least two weeks to help track possible infections.

The 1-meter distance also needs to be applied for people standing at bar counters for drinks.

Hairdressers and beauty salons have to start taking reservations and must ensure strict sanitary measures.

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