Italy began a slight return to normalcy this week, emerging from a COVID-19 lockdown that began before Christmas.
Cafes, museums, and bars reopened for customers, albeit with precautions still in place. Most Italian regions shifted to “yellow” precautions on Monday morning. And locals were happy to be back in public after months under strict lockdown rules.
“We couldn’t wait,” a local in Rome told The Associated Press on the morning that cafes reopened. “Look, the very first morning I am here with my papa getting a cappuccino, sitting at a table, outside.”
Attractions like the Colosseum and Roman Forum are also open.
Tuscany entered the “yellow” zone last week. On Monday, the famed Uffizi Gallery in Florence reported that about 7,300 people had visited the museum on its first days of opening. The museum is only open during the weekdays at this point and only locals are allowed to visit.
Italy has a three-tiered system to measure coronavirus risk and precautions. Red is the most strict level, orange is slightly less so and yellow is the most open. As of Monday morning, only five Italian regions — including Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria and Bolzano — remained orange. The rest were yellow.
Travel restrictions remain in place throughout Italy with interregional travel still restricted, although there is greater freedom to travel within a yellow region, The Local Italy reported. A 10 p.m. curfew is still in place and there are limits on public transport, as well as mask mandates for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Italy was able to avoid the severe post-Christmas surges in COVID-19 cases seen in Britain and other parts of Europe by keeping ski slopes closed and banning travel between regions for holiday get-togethers.
But Italy has not completely conquered its pandemic. The country averages anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 new confirmed cases and 300 to 600 deaths related to COVID-19 each day.