Italy will move into Phase Two of the coronavirus pandemic response from May 4, so players can train individually from May 4, in groups from May 18, with games expected by June 2.
The pandemic began in Italy with the first positive test on February 20 and 26,644 people have since died with conditions related to or made worse by COVID-19.
The death toll over the last 24 hours was ‘only’ 260, the lowest figure since March 14, having reached a peak of 919 on March 27, as the lockdown measures enacted on March 10 have taken effect.
“You have all shown strength, courage, sense of responsibility and community. Now the phase of living with the virus begins for everyone and we must be aware that during Phase Two, there is the risk we’ll see the curve climb in some areas of the country,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in a press conference.
“It’ll be even more important to maintain social distancing, at least one metre. Even when seeing family, we must still maintain this precaution, because the scientists tell us that at least one out of four infections come via family members.
“If we do not respect social distancing, the curve will climb again, so will the number of deaths, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy. If you love this country, then respect social distancing.”
Phase Two will see the lockdown eased, some travel allowed within regions and greater freedom for outdoor exercise, but still maintaining social distancing guidelines and banning travel between regions unless necessary.
When it comes to football, that will mean individual training allowed from May 4, while they will be permitted to train in groups from May 18.
Players will also be regularly tested both with swabs and blood tests to ensure that if someone does become infected, it is spotted early and he is isolated.
The Government announced it will set a price-cap for protective masks to prevent price-gouging, at circa €0.50, removing VAT and leaving only the tiniest margin of profit for manufacturers.
“From May 4 and for the next two weeks, until May 18, we will confirm the social distancing guidelines, so travel should still be reduced within a region for unavoidable work or health reasons. However, we will also allow targeted family visits, but only targeted ones with social distancing and use of protective masks. There are to be no large family gatherings from May 4.”
Parks can also be opened up, but the local Mayors will have the power to shut them again if the social distancing guidelines are not maintained.
“Sporting activity can be performed while keeping a distance of two metres, whereas when simply walking, one metre will be enough.
“To allow a gradual reprisal of sporting events, from May 4 professionals and non-professionals (albeit recognised by the CONI) will be allowed to train. However, these training sessions must maintain social distancing guidelines.”
Therefore, they will have to maintain a two-metre distance when training, so in very small groups.
Italy is now opening up restaurants and bars for takeaway and delivery only, but people cannot gather or eat in or outside these venues.
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 15 people while respecting social distancing measures and wearing protective masks.
The economy will be boosted by news that manufacturing, construction and commercial enterprises will reopen from May 4, but again, with social distancing guidelines.
“From May 18 we can resume – with all due precautions – museums, art galleries and libraries, as well as team training in sport," continued PM Conte.
“I can confirm that June 1 is the date when we’d like to open up bars, restaurants, hairdressers, salons, barbers and massage parlours. This is a phased programme, because obviously personal care services require closer contact, so we are taking a few more days to ensure they can do their work in safety.
“We are working on re-opening beaches and swimming pools with great care for safety and security after that date.”
Conte was asked specifically about football and the signal of normality this would send to the general population.
“I am passionate about football, like many Italians, so it did seem strange that the season could be suspended, but even the most passionate supporters realised there was no alternative.
“Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora will work intensively over the next few days with the experts, scientists and sporting figures to undertake training individually from May 4, in groups from May 18, and then we’ll evaluate if there are the conditions to allow the season to be completed.
“Right now, we need to complete all the discussions to ensure that if we do reach that stage, we’ll do so in the utmost safety and security. We are passionate about sport and don’t want our idols to get ill.”