In pictures: Italians return to bars and restaurants as COVID lockdown is eased

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People make a toast as they sit at a restaurant in Trastevere after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased in Lazio region, Rome, Italy. (Reuters)
People make a toast as they sit at a restaurant in Trastevere after coronavirus restrictions were eased in Lazio region, Rome, Italy. (Reuters)

Italy has eased its coronavirus restrictions for most of the country from Monday 1 February.

The country’s health ministry eased restrictions in 15 of Italy's 20 regions as the number of infections continue to fall.

Two-thirds of Italy was declared a lower-risk “yellow zone”, allowing bars to serve customers at tables again instead of offering takeaway only.

Rome, Milan and Tuscany have now been downgraded from a medium-risk “orange zone” to a yellow zone.

Five regions – Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria and the autonomous province of Bolzano – remain orange zones, and travelling between regions remains prohibited until mid-February.

No regions have been classed as red zones.

Tourist attractions such as the Colosseum, which was closed for two months, and the Vatican Museums, which were shut for three months, also reopened.

Watch: Romans return to the coffee bar

visitors take pictures as singers and musicians from the Santa Cecilia academy perform on February 1, 2021 at Rome's landmark Colosseum as it reopens amid an easing of coronavirus restrictions, with all but five Italian regions put in the low-risk "yellow" category from today. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
Singers and musicians from the Santa Cecilia academy perform at Rome's landmark Colosseum as it reopens amid an easing of coronavirus restrictions. (Reuters)

The move, announced by Italian health minister Roberto Speranza on Friday, is based on regional levels of COVID risk under Italy's tiered system of restrictions.

Italy was a red zone for much of the Christmas holiday period, with the country effectively placed under a national lockdown into the new year.

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While the changes will be a relief to its citizens, who are now largely able to have some semblance of normality back, the health ministry warned that people should still remain on guard.

“Being in a yellow zone does not mean the danger has passed,” Speranza said on Sunday, according to news site The Local.

“We still need the utmost caution if we do not want to go back on the progress made in recent weeks.”

Staff members and customers make a toast at a restaurant in Trastevere after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased in Lazio region, Rome, Italy, February 1, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
In yellow zones, bars and restaurants can stay open until 6pm, and takeaway service is allowed until 10pm for restaurants. (Reuters)

In yellow zones, bars and restaurants can stay open until 6pm and takeaway service is allowed until 10pm for restaurants.

People are allowed to visit friends and relatives at their homes between the hours of 5am and 10pm.

Shops are open but cinemas, theatres, discos, gyms, swimming pools, theme parks and spas remain closed.

Read more: Italy sees new high in COVID infections since lockdown eased

Italy was one of the worst-hit countries during the first wave of the pandemic and has Europe's second highest death toll from COVID-19, behind Britain.

Italy recorded 11,252 new cases on Sunday and 237 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday.

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