Schools in Italy will remain closed through the summer holidays and reopen in September, the prime minister said in an interview published on Sunday.
Italy has been under lockdown for longer than any other Western nation, with the epidemic hitting its industrialized north hard. There have been more than 26,000 deaths and nearly 200,000 cases, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.
“The schools are very important to us and will reopen in September,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the La Repubblica newspaper.
The government closed schools, universities and daycare centres across the country on March 5 as it worked to contain the fast-moving virus.
Conte has promised to begin outlining Italy’s exit from the lockdown once the current virus containment measures expire on May 3.
The prime minister told La Repubblica that certain “strategically” important economic activities could resume soon, possibly within the next week, including in the production and manufacturing sectors.
Priority should be given to export-driven businesses that are in danger of falling out of global supply chains, he said, while adding that the health and safety of employees was always the top priority.
Experts have warned that as Italy eases its lockdown, authorities will have to step up vigilance on suspected virus cases and maintain strict social distancing rules.
Fears that Italy’s poorer south would see outbreaks on a similar scale to the north have so far not materialized.