Italy set to ease COVID restrictions, Draghi says

ROME, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Italy will soon announce a timetable to roll back its COVID-19 curbs, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday, as a surge in cases fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant started to slow.

Italy has recorded more than 147,000 deaths linked to coronavirus and 11.23 million cases since the pandemic set in two years ago.

Many restrictions, including those on transport, bars and restaurants, have already been eased for the vaccinated, while tough curbs remain in place for those who are not inoculated. Mask wearing is mandatory outdoors.

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“In the coming weeks, we will continue on this path of reopening. Based on scientific evidence … we will announce a timetable for lifting the current restrictions,” Draghi was quoted as saying by his office at a cabinet meeting.

The government’s vaccination campaign has been broadly successful, with more than 80% of people having received two jabs, while more than 57% have received a third booster dose.

Draghi said the validity of the COVID-19 health pass – showing someone has been vaccinated or has recently recovered from the disease – will be open-ended for those who got a third dose. The pass is needed to gain access to most activities.

The government moved on Wednesday to relax quarantine rules at schools for pupils who had been vaccinated.

However, signaling continued friction in the coalition, ministers from the rightist League party refused to take part in the final vote. A League minister said the party was opposed to measures which discriminated against non-vaccinated children.

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Reporting by Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte; editing by David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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