Italian PM: 'Summer Will Not be Quarantined, Italy Will Go on Vacation'

In an interview with one of the country's largest daily newspaper, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reassured a nation wearied by lockdown and weakened by more than 30,000 coronavirus-related deaths that summer would not be spent indoors.

"This summer we will not be spent on the balcony and the beauty of Italy will not remain in quarantine. We will be able to go to the sea, to the mountains, to enjoy our cities," Conte told Corriere della Sera. "And it would be nice if the Italians spent their holidays in Italy, even if we do it differently, with rules and cautions."

The nation, which began its first steps to roll back quarantine measures on May 4, has remained one of the hardest-hit nations in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first country to announce a complete lockdown which shuttered all business and effectively forced its 60 million residents to stay at home.

Researchers in Padova, where the first coronavirus death was reported in late February, have begun testing to determine the prevalence of widespread asymptomatic cases in the country's north. The village of Vo, outside Padova, has seen roughly 40 percent of its residence testing positive for the disease without any signs of symptoms or in need of medical treatment.

Despite the slow reopening, which began with florists and some cafes, Conte noted that it would take time for life to resume a level of normalcy.

"We await the evolution of the epidemiological framework to provide precise indications on dates and programming," Conte said, noting that the economy will suffer for some time, with the next few months being "very difficult, but summer will not be in quarantine —Italy will go on vacation."

"We will have a sharp fall in GDP and the economic consequences will be very painful," he said, noting that tussles with the European block continue as the nations seek a financial salve to prop up an economy worse hit than during the years of the Second World War.

As the Carabiniere, the police force tasked with upholding quarantine measures, relax restrictions on travel and activities, such as the allowance of soccer games, swimming, and the attendance of church, larger public gatherings remain off-limits. Bars, restaurants and hair salons are slated to reopen on May 18, but school closures remain until further notice. In the economically-depressed south, which relies heavily on tourism, a resumption of industries may come much later as worldwide travel restrictions remain active in many countries.

"Banks must do their part," Conte said. As testing improves, Conte said "we will also be able to allow geographical differentiations," but "this does not mean proceeding in a loose order and relying on reckless initiatives."

While some countries across the country have begun reopening, Germany and South Korea both saw a spike in new coronavirus cases over the weekend. Italy has been seen as a model since the virus was first reported in China late last year. First, as a model of unpreparedness against the virus, then as a model for how countries should determine when and how to reopen.