Italians rush back to coffee bars as restrictions were eased

Italians rushed back to coffee bars on Monday as restrictions were eased across most of the country, news wires reported. After severe curbs over the Christmas and New Year period, two-thirds of Italy was declared a “yellow zone” allowing bars in those less risky areas to serve customers at counters and tables again.

“We felt dead without bars,” said Rome resident Tiziana Baldo cited by Reuters after a barista poured her drink in a bar in central Rome. “It is beautiful to come here and talk to the people behind the bar; they make us feel alive every morning before going to work,” she added.

While much of Europe remains in strict lockdown, bars and restaurants in parts of Italy can again serve customers at tables and counters until 6 p.m. After that, it’s take-away until 10 p.m., when a curfew kicks until 5 a.m. the next day. “I am very happy because at least this big waste of plastic (takeaway cups) will end,” said construction worker Leonardo Angelini after downing his morning coffee in a bar.

The Health Ministry eased restrictions in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions, as the number of people infected continued to fall. Five regions remain red zones and travelling between regions of any colour remains prohibited until mid-February. Tourism attractions such as the Colosseum, which had been closed for two months, and the Vatican Museums, which were shut for three months, also reopened, giving the few tourists who did show up an unusual thrill.

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