Italy gives bookshops permission to reopen

Italy gives bookshops permission to reopen

Italy, the country worst affected so far by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, is allowing bookshops to reopen.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced the development, with stationery shops and children's clothes shops also among the small number of stores allowed to reopen this week. However, it was confirmed the country's wider quarantine and travel restrictions will remain in place until 3rd May.

Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Italian Publishers Association, issued a statement to say re-opening bookshops marked "a first step" in a return to normality for the world of books, and aid to support publishers and booksellers would be indispensable.

He added that, while welcoming the decision to allow bookshops to reopen after Easter, it would be individual bookshops that have the last word on the reopening of their shops, to protect the health of customers and booksellers.

Italy culture minister Dario Franceschini has welcomed the move also, saying it recognises the "essential" nature of books. He likewise has responded to concerns for the health of booksellers emphasising bookshops now have the possibility of reopening: they are not obliged to do so. 

Some regions, such as Lombardy and Piedmont, have imposed more restrictive measures, and in Rome bookshops will not reopen until 20th April, following an order issued by the Lazio region of Italy to allow time for adequate safety measures to be put in place.

On Saturday (11th April) Italy's health authorities reported its lowest daily death toll, 431 deaths, since 19th March.