Former prime minister Matteo Renzi has warned that Italy must reopen its schools at the start of May or risk causing mass protests and riots.
Renzi, the leader of the Italia Viva party who led the country from 2014 to 2016, wants factories reopened by Easter and millions of children to return to school on May 4th to ease the pressure on hard-hit families and the economy.
As Italians start to grow restless, Renzi said: “Italy cannot hibernate for another month because this is how the social revolt ignites……the balconies will soon turn into pitchforks; the songs of hope, into desperate protests.”
The Mail Online reports: But health experts poured cold water on his idea, insisting that it is still too early to talk about relaxing draconian restrictions that has seen all-but essential businesses shuttered and people banned from leaving the house.
Renzi spoke out on Saturday, as it became clear that Italy’s rate of new coronavirus cases had begun falling. On Monday, the country announced it had fallen to a two-week low.
But Giovanni Rezza, an infectious disease expert who has been helping to lead the country’s response, said it needs to fall further still before measures can be eased.
Speaking at the weekend, he said the average Italian coronavirus patient is now infecting just over one person with the virus.
That is down from 2.5 people on average before the lockdown was put in place.
‘But it must fall further,’ he said, ‘below one before the alarm is over.’
Pierluigi Lopalco, another disease expert, agreed. ‘Thinking about reopening schools on May 4th is madness and making proclamations at this time is wrong,’ he said.
Renzi made his remarks in an interview with Italian newspaper Avvenire, in which he insisted that life must be allowed to carry on during the pandemic – albeit differently than usual.
The coronavirus season has a before, an after, but also a during,’ he said. ‘And in the course of the course we will have to deal with reality.
‘For a year we will no longer shake hands. We will no longer be attached to the tables in a pizzeria, we will go to the cinema and the theater keeping the safety distance.
‘Crowded places will be avoided and more work will be done from home. We will live differently, but we will live. We must start again, however. Because the alternative is to shut yourself in and die.’