Many people in Italy are calling for the government to begin easing restrictions now that the coronavirus spread is showing what some see as signs of slowing down. The daily death toll has been dropping steadily, as have admissions to intensive care units. But with about 500 people still dying each day, the country’s prime minister is resisting calls to relax strict safe-distance measures.
The debate is growing on whether it is time to downgrade the emergency and start easing restrictions after a strict five-week lockdown.
Falling daily death rates and fewer admissions to intensive care units are reason for hope. On top of that, there is pressure to reopen industries and businesses in the face of what could be a massive economic meltdown.
In the face of it all, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is urging caution and says any decision to downgrade the emergency must be taken gradually and together with scientists.
He also warned of dire consequences yet to come for the whole of Europe if the EU does not come together and agree on a rescue package.
Conte said the future of the European Union is at stake in a challenge he has compared to that of World War II.
In a video interview with the German newspaper Bild Conte, the Italian prime minister said Europe must unite and deliver a solid response to head off a devastation of the European economy.
He said the sooner financial instruments are created that will allow countries to deal with this crisis, the sooner everyone will emerge from this situation and enjoy economic and social and advantages.
Divisions between southern European nations, led by Italy, and northern ones, mainly Germany and the Netherlands, have so far stalled plans for a massive package to help the hardest-hit economies recover from the effects of the pandemic.