Coronavirus: Italy unlocks its economy with travel and shop opening plan

Italy was the first country to impose a nationwide lockdown to stem the transmission of the coronavirus. Photo: Getty

Italy has unveiled further measures to unlock its economy as the country looks to get back on its feet after more than two months in lockdown.

Today, the Italian government passed legislation that will allow people to travel abroad from 3 June.

The move has been warmly welcomed and is being seen as a major development not just in Italy but across the European Union.

READ MORE: European Union plots to restart travel and kickstart tourism

The government hopes the new rules will salvage the forthcoming vacation season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks abroad or at home.

The inter-regional and foreign travel ban will remain in place until after Italy’s 2 June Republic Day holiday, preventing any mass travel over that long-holiday weekend.

It comes as shops are due to open on Monday, the same day that people are allowed to visit friends.

Some regions had pushed for a swifter rollback, but Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted on a gradual return to normal to prevent a second wave of infections.

READ MORE: Eurozone economy contracts at fastest pace ever

More than 31,600 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light at the end of February, the third-highest death toll in the world after that of the United States and the UK.

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

Italy’s lockdown has been one of the strictest in the world.

Last week the EU unveiled plans to lift border restrictions and kickstart the bloc’s all important tourism industry.

In a strategy document titled ‘Europe needs a break’ the European Commission said it wanted member states to gradually find ways to remove internal border checks where the health situation has improved.

Tourism normally brings €150bn (£134.1bn) from June through to August and is one of the bloc’s biggest sectors, bringing in a tenth of the European Union’s total economic output.