Italy starts to return to normal

Italy's Catholic churches held public Masses for the first time in two months on Monday (May 18) in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Francis said a private Mass in a side chapel where St. John Paul II is buried to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the late Polish pope's birth.

Red stickers in English and Italian and yellow lines told those entering that they had to keep at least 2 metres (6.56 feet) apart, wear masks and sanitise their hands. Temperature checks were made on everyone entering.

Romans finally re-enjoyed the simple pleasure of drinking a morning cappuccino or 'cafe' (espresso) and eating a fresh 'cornetto' (croissant) at the bar, albeit well-spaced from other clients, and workers returned to work.

In a bid to contain the contagion, Italy was the first European country to impose nationwide restrictions in early March, only permitting an initial relaxation of the rules on May 4, when it allowed factories and parks to reopen.

Monday marked a major step forward on the road to recovery, with unlimited travel sanctioned in individual regions, friends once again allowed to meet up and restaurants able to serve again so long as tables were at least 2 metres (6.5 ft) apart.

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