© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends a session of the House of Commons on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Rome
By Stephen Jewkes
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy, the first European country to be affected by the corona virus, will allow some companies to reopen this week, with production and construction scheduled to resume on May 4, Prime Minister said Giuseppe Conte.
Conte gave the most detailed overview of plans to reopen the economy to date in a newspaper interview released on Sunday ahead of the government's roadmap, scheduled to be released earlier this week.
Italy, which was hit hard by the virus weeks before other major western countries, was forced to act as a model for its fight. It is closely watched around the world as it takes its first steps to show a way out of a strict barrier it imposed in early March.
Conte described a step-by-step process in which a large part of production would resume at the beginning of May, although companies such as bars and restaurants that are frequented by the public would have to wait a little longer. The schools would remain closed until September.
"We are working on these hours to enable most of the companies to reopen from manufacturing to construction for May 4th," Conte told the Italian daily La Repubblica.
Some companies that have been classified as "strategic", including activities that are primarily export-oriented, could be reopened this week if the go-ahead is given by local prefects.
Export companies have to resume operations earlier to reduce the risk of being left out of the production chain and losing business, he said.
"We cannot prolong this blockage … we would seriously undermine the country's socio-economic fabric," said Conte.
Conte reaffirmed that each restart must be gradual and that companies must implement strict health security measures before they can open their doors.
Newspapers have stated that industries with low risk of infection, such as manufacturing and wholesale, may open on May 4th. Retailers could then reopen on May 11 and bars and restaurants on May 18 in difficult conditions.
The blockade has weighed on the third largest economy in the euro area, and Italian business leaders have demanded that restrictions be relaxed to avert the economic catastrophe.
Rome has implemented a number of measures, including government-sponsored loans, to help companies stay afloat. However, some business people have complained about delays in implementation.
According to Conte, the government is monitoring banks to ensure that government-guaranteed liquidity reaches companies in need.
He also said the government is working on a number of measures to support the industry by cutting red tape.
When asked about schools, Conte said it was planned to reopen in September. Studies added that the risk of infection is very high. Distance learning works well, he said.
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained on this website is not necessarily real-time or correct. All CFDs (stocks, indices, futures) and forex prices are not provided by exchanges, but by market makers. Therefore, prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price. This means that the prices are indicative and not suitable for trading purposes. Therefore, Fusion Media is not responsible for any trade losses that you may incur from using this data.
Fusion Media or anyone dealing with Fusion Media are not responsible for any loss or damage caused by trust in the information contained on this website such as data, offers, diagrams and buy / sell signals. Please be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading on the financial markets. This is one of the most risky forms of investment that is possible.