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Some Shops Allowed to Reopen in Italy

People walk along the promenade in the seaside town of Ostia, near Rome, April 13, 2020.

In Italy, bookstores, stationary stores and shops selling baby clothes and supplies were allowed to open nationwide on Tuesday, provided they could maintain the same social-distancing and sanitary measures required in supermarkets.

But there was no coherency to the openings, with some regional governors and individual shop owners still deciding to keep their doors shut for now.

Hard-hit Lombardy and Piemonte kept their bookshops and stationary shops closed, while central Lazio postponed any opening for another week to allow stores to put in place sanitary measures to protect both staff and shoppers alike. Veneto was allowing them to open two days a week under a gradual loosening that the governor termed "lockdown light."

Another segment of workers allowed back on the job Tuesday were forestry workers, to clear dead trees ahead of the warming weather that brings with it forest fire season.

While the list of commercial activities allowed to reopen seemed random, officials offered the explanation that students needed to restock up on school supplies, new parents needed to outfit their growing babies. And Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini argued that books were an "essential good" for Italians cooped up at home.

"The same distancing and security measures as supermarkets will be required, but they'll reopen," Franceschini tweeted. "It's not a symbolic gesture, but the recognition that even books are an essential good."