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La dolce vita? Italians embrace their freedom but crowded beaches and nightlife worry officials

Italians are embracing their freedom from a strict coronavirus lockdown by heading to the country’s beaches and piazzas, but officials are warning that too little thought is being paid to the danger of a second wave of infections.

Footage broadcast on Italian TV at the weekend showed young Italians partying and drinking in groups in both northern and southern Italy. The resumption of Italy’s “movida,” or nightlife, has prompted the authorities to warn citizens to behave more cautiously.

Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia told La Stampa newspaper Monday that the government will not open up travel between Italian regions, expected as part of its “Phase Two” lifting of lockdown restrictions and due to take place on June 2, if mass social gatherings continue.

The green light to socialize last weekend was a breath of fresh air for Italians who have endured more than two months of strict lockdown rules, told to stay at home unless they had to go out for essentials such as food and medicine. As of May 18, bars, restaurants and museums were allowed to reopen, as well as shops, hairdressers and beaches.

Beaches were a popular destination for many Italians making the most of the good weather, with some coastal towns, like Castiglione della Pescaia, noted for how busy they were at the weekend. Lorenzo, who works at Bar La Fronte in the Tuscan coastal resort, told CNBC that his bar was busy but that most customers were respecting social distancing rules.

Having witnessed crowds gathered at the weekend, some Italians shared their concerns over the apparent lack of social distancing on Twitter, especially given Italy’s experience of the virus that has led to the deaths of almost 33,000 people.

Italy’s city mayors are not happy either and have taken to social media to implore locals to abide by the rules, or risk a return of restrictions.

Vincenzo Napoli, the mayor of Salerno, said he’d seen too many crowds and traffic in the southern Italian city at the weekend. “There seems to have been some sort of psychological repression of what has happened so far, just like an emotional release. This is the worst that can happen,” he said, according to the Gazetta di Salerno newspaper. “Lowering your guard at this stage means returning to the terrifying action of the virus,” he warned.

Meanwhile, crowds heading to mountains around Turin prompted both hopes of a recovery for the local economy, but also concern over the number of people gathering to enjoy the outdoors. The mayor of one local commune, Usseglio, described the scenes of crowds there as “disastrous.”

La dolce vita? Italians embrace their freedom but crowded beaches and nightlife worry officials, CNBC, May 27

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