Italian Prime Minister Conte outlines coronavirus exit strategy blueprint

In a newspaper interview published on Sunday, Mr Conte announced the blueprint of his government’s plans to reopen the country’s economy following a stringent lockdown. The message comes ahead of the release of the roadmap out of lockdown, which Mr Conte said would be made public early this week.

Italy is one of the countries that have been hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with a total death toll of at least 26,000.

On Sunday, Italy saw its smallest daily death figure since March 14, with 260 deaths reported by the Civil Protection Agency.

The number of new cases was also the lowest since April 20 at 2,324 from 2,357 on Saturday.

After the United States, Italy has the largest number of deaths from the coronavirus at 26,644.

Italy first declared its strict lockdown in early March.

“We are working in these hours to allow the reopening of a good part of businesses from manufacturing to construction for May 4,” Mr Conte told Italian daily La Repubblica.

Businesses in the hospitality sector will have to wait longer to resume their activity and schools will reopen in September.

Some companies considered “strategic”, including export-oriented businesses, could reopen this week if local prefects given them the green light.

Mr Conte added that exporting businesses need to reopen sooner to avoid the risk of being cut out of the production chain and losing business.

Mr Conte said: “We can’t prolong any further this lockdown.

“We would risk seriously undermining the socio-economic fabric of the country.”

The Prime Minister said that the ease of restrictions would be gradual as companies would have to ensure strict safety measures are put in place.

Newspapers have reported that sectors where the risk of spread is low, such as manufacturing and wholesale companies, could reopen on May 4.

Retail companies could be allowed to reopen on May 11.

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Bars and restaurants would be the last to reopen on May 18 while abiding by stringent safety measures.

Italian business leaders have demanded the strict measures be lifted in order to steer away from an economic disaster.

While measures including state-funded loans have been introduced to help businesses through the crisis, some businessmen have complained about delays in implementing them.

Mr Conte said the government was keeping track of bank activities to ensure the state-backed help arrived to businesses in need.

He added that the government was creating a series of proposals to help industry by slashing bureaucratic red tape.

The interior ministry said a streamlined procedure is being implemented that “trusts the sense of responsibility of individual business persons” in allowing companies to resume activity.

The ministry’s local authorities can control that businesses follow coronavirus safety measures, including social distancing.

The number of reported infections in Italy as of Sunday was 197,675, the third highest tally in the world behind those of the United States and Spain.

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