IN PHOTOS: How Italians made the most of the start of phase two

As some rules were sligtly relaxed in Italy from the start of this week, Italians started getting back outdoors and back to work. Here's a selection of images showing life around the country under "phase two" of its lockdown.

IN PHOTOS: How Italians made the most of the start of phase two
A bar in Rome reopens, serving pizza and aperitivo to take away. All photos: AFP

Under a new set of rules, now valid from May 4-17th, the ban on outdoor exercise has been lifted and parks were allowed to reopen in most parts of Italy.

People enjoy a park in Rome (despite the overgrown grass) on May 4th. Photo: AFP

On Monday May 4th, many people were able to go for a run or walk outdoors for the first time in almost two months – though team sports remain forbidden.

A boy plays basketball alone in a Rome park on May 4th. Photo: AFP

Residents were for the first time able to go out and enjoy the sights in Italian towns and cities without the usual crowds at this time of year.

People stop for a break on a bike ride in central Rome on May 4th. Photo: AFP

Of course it wasn't quite the same everywhere in the country, as regions enforced their own rules and some cities opted to keep parks and beaches closed.

There were emotional reunions too as people were allowed to visit family members and partners. However, big gatherings – including the traditional Sunday lunch for the entire extended family – are still not allowed.

READ ALSO: Who exactly are you allowed to visit under Italy's 'phase two' lockdown rules?

People in certain industries went back to work this week, and all construction work was allowed to restart.

A wrker marks out his space in front of the Colosseum in Rome. Photo: AFP

Buses and metro trains ran at a reduced capacity, with signs warning people to keep their distance.

There's also a new government requirement to wear masks while travelling on public transport.

A sign on a Rome bus reads “sitting forbidden”. Photo: AFP

Commuters in Milan on May 5th. Photo: AFP

Many people also returned home this week, taking advantage of the lifting of a ban on travel from one region to another in order to return to their families.

Travel to and within the country is still tightly restricted, flights and trains are limited, and many southern regions have enforced a 14-day quarantine rule for those returning from northern Italy.

A passenger walks by Red Cross volunterrs conducting temperature checks at Rome's Fiuimicino airport on May 4th. Photo: AFP

In Milan, a network of temporary bike lanes is being expanded across the city centre in order to help commuters avoid public transport.

Cyclists in Milan on May 5th. Photo: AFP

Restaurants and bars across the country were allowed to sell food and drinks – for takeaway only – this week. 

PHASE TWO EXPLAINED: What's changed in Italy from May 4th?

Previously they had only been allowed to operate a delivery service, and some regions had closed restaurants entirely.

A coffee shop employee prepares a customer's takeout order in Rome on May 4th. Photo: AFP

Gelaterias are also allowed to reopen for takeaway orders. Photo: AFP

Not all shops are yet allowed to reopen, and protests were held in Milan, Venice, and other cities across Italy by shopkeepers and business owners angry about lost income due to the shutdown.

People in St Mark's Square in Venice protest the continued closure of many shops and businesses in Italy as phase two began on May 4th. Photo: AFP

Hairdressers in Venice protest over the fact they're not set to be allowed to reopen until at least June 1st. Photo: AFP



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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.