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Italy to ease travel restrictions in early June

Italy to ease travel restrictions in early June
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Italy's government has approved a measure that would allow international travel into and out of the country starting early next month, a significant shift for a country with one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Italian government’s Council of Ministers announced Saturday that its decree will also allow free travel within the country starting June 3.

Some regional governments had pushed for a swifter rollback of travel restrictions, but Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has maintained that a more cautious, gradual approach would help prevent a spike in coronavirus cases as the country reopens. 

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Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe during the pandemic, suffering more than 31,000 deaths, the third-highest death toll in the world. It was one of the first countries in Europe to impose a nationwide lockdown, which was enforced by the military, to try to blunt the virus’s spread. 

The government’s decree will also ease restrictions on intraregional travel starting Monday, allowing all movement within individual regions to resume and permitting the reopening of shops. Regions can reopen all sectors of their economies as long as safety procedures are followed.

Conte conceded Saturday that the reopening posed a risk, considering fears that the move could lead to a resurgence in cases.

“We’re facing a calculated risk, knowing that the epidemiological curve could rise again,” Conte said in a press conference.

Not all European countries are prepared to reopen at the same clip as Italy, with Spain, which has had more cases but fewer deaths than Italy, pushing to extend its state of emergency for another month.

The U.S. is also gradually reopening, with different states lifting orders at different paces. Some states have already reported increases in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since reopening.

Updated at 4:28 p.m.