Italy is Shifting to New Normal, State of Emergency Ends March 21

A gradual return to normalcy.
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ROME -- Italy will end its COVID-19 state of emergency at the end of March and slowly lift rules imposed during the pandemic, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Wednesday.

The aim was to "reopen everything, as soon as possible", after more than two years of a health crisis, he added.

The pandemic hit Italy hard in early 2020 and has so far killed more than 153,000 people.

The country recorded more than 220,000 daily positive cases in early January, but numbers have since dropped significantly, with the health ministry reporting just under 50,000 on Wednesday.

The eurozone's third largest economy has been struggling to recover from financially crippling lockdowns.

"The government is aware that the strength of the recovery depends first and foremost on the ability to overcome the emergencies of the moment," Draghi said in a speech in Florence.

Italy currently has a so-called coronavirus Super Green Pass, which proves the bearer has been fully vaccinated or recovered recently from the virus, and which is mandatory for workers.

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It is also obligatory in many public social settings -- but that rule will soon be gradually rolled back, "starting with outdoor activities," Draghi said.

That includes at fairs, sports activities, festivals and cultural events, he said.

"We will continue to closely monitor the pandemic situation, ready to intervene in case of an outbreak," Draghi said.

"But our aim is to reopen fully, as soon as possible".

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