Venice geared up to receive tourists, Milan’s pizzerias prepared to open and Australians headed out to eat for the first time in weeks Saturday, but the reopening of restaurants, pubs and cafes came with a warning: Don’t overdo it.
Public health experts are urging caution as governments ease restrictions on eateries, shops and parks in many countries and roll out measures to restart dormant factories. The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 300,000 people, has slowed in many places but could pick up again if precautions aren’t taken or officials move too quickly to get people back to work.
“The message is, yes, appreciate all the efforts, appreciate the opportunity to release some of those measures, but let’s not have a party, let’s not go to town,” said Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association.
Most restaurants are limited to 10 customers at a time, and Bartone said people must maintain social distance, follow coughing etiquette, wash their hands regularly and stay away from others if they are ill.
In New Zealand, even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiance, Clarke Gayford, were initially turned away for Saturday brunch by a restaurant in the capital city, Wellington, because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines.
Gayford took responsibility, saying he hadn’t made reservations. There was a happy ending, as a spot freed up and staff chased down the street to call the couple back.
“A+ service,” Gayford tweeted.
Italy’s tourism industry is focused firmly on June 3, when both regional and international borders reopen, allowing the first prospect of tourists since Europe’s first lockdown went into place in early March. In tourist-reliant Venice, occupancy of the city’s 50,000 hotel beds has hovered around zero ever since.
“Venice lives on tourism, period,” said Claudio Scarpa, head of the city’s hotel association. ’’All the economic structures that operate in the city, including the port, are tied to tourism.”
While Venice hopes for some kind of restart, it may have to wait a while yet. Germany — its border about a four-hour drive from Venice — is instructing citizens not to travel abroad for tourism until at least June 15.
France was also being cautious, calling for a coordinated European effort on opening. At the same time, it could make decisions “that protect the French” regarding countries “where the virus is still active,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Saturday.
[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]