New hope in Italy as restaurants and museums reopen

·2-min read

As the number of Covid-19 infections eases in Italy, starting Monday 1 February most of the country has been moved into the more relaxed "yellow" restriction. This means bars and restaurants can reopen until 6pm and galleries and museums, such as the Colosseum, can welcome back visitors.

After nearly three months of closure, Rome's Vatican Museums, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are some of the big tourist attractions that re-opened to the public on Monday.

The number of visitors at any one time is still restricted, and the sites are only open on weekdays during curfew hours, but for Italians it is a sign of the beginning of a return to normal.

To celebrate the reopening of the Colosseum from 10.30am to 4.30pm, a special concert was held by the students of the Academy of St Cecilia in the arena of the ancient Roman amphitheatre.

The Archaeological Park of the Colosseum called its reopening a “sign of hope” and said that “visitors will again be able to enjoy a walk through history”.

Local tourists

It will be a long time before the large crowds of the past will be seen again and certainly not until the Covid-19 emergency is well under control.

In the meantime, as limitations continue for travel between different regions in Italy, with the exception of people with work or health commitments or emergencies, visitors are likely to be mostly locals.

As in all countries, Italy's culture, entertainment and hospitality sectors will take some time to recover from the huge losses caused by the prolonged Covid-19 crisis. Some businesses may never recover at all.

Venice was to have started its Carnival celebrations over the weekend, but all events and parties have been cancelled for the next two weeks.

Masks this year in the lagoon city are being worn for protection rather than amusement. And the gondolas that normally would have taken part in the Carnival parade along the city’s canals are firmly tied to their docks.

The Venice Carnival last year was closed three days after it opened due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has so far logged more than 88,000 deaths from Covid-19 and more than 2.5 million infections.