ROME: The Italian government was set to announce a two-step plan on Thursday (Mar 17) scrapping most of its coronavirus restrictions as the country nears the end of its state of emergency.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government was to meet to approve a plan to soften the curbs, a cabinet statement said. Draghi and Health Minister Roberto Speranza will hold a news conference afterwards to detail the decisions.
The state of emergency, which allows public authorities to bypass bureaucracy and impose rules via decrees, was first introduced at the start of the pandemic, on Jan 31, 2020.
The moves in Italy follow other European countries where most COVID-19 curbs have been lifted. France no longer requires face masks to be worn in most public places and allows people who have not been vaccinated into bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Italy saw coronavirus cases and deaths recede after a surge in daily infections at the start of the year.
However think tank Gimbe, noting that cases are again rising, suggested the government should be cautious in relaxing curbs.
"Measures have to be relaxed on the basis of scientific evidence, not to emulate other countries," Gimbe said in its weekly report.