As Italy Eases Lockdown, Conversation Turns to Defining ‘Relative’

Millions returned to work this week in Italy, following a strict two-month lockdown.

More than 4 million Italians returned to work this week, as the government began lifting restrictions that were imposed on March 9 to slow the spread of Covid-19, NPR reports.

Construction, wholesale and certain manufacturing companies started welcoming employees back to work on Monday.

Restaurants are able to reopen, but only for takeout. Parks can reopen with social distancing measures, and people can move beyond 200 yards from their home, among other activities.

Almost 30,000 Italians have died from coronavirus complications, second only to the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 210,000 people in the country have been infected.

As Italy began its gradual reopening after the longest lockdown in Europe, the national conversation quickly turned to the meaning of the word “relative.”

The New York Times reports:

“In preparing for the easing of the restrictions last month, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, not known for plain speaking, said that Italians could visit their congiunti, a word that could be translated as relatives but is also broader. Things then got muddier when he said it meant a person of “stable affection.”

A national semantics debate ensued and this weekend, hours before the lockdown lifted, the government tried to settle the issue.

Just friends just didn’t cut it.

Spouses, partners in civil unions and people who had moved in together but found themselves separated by the lockdown could see one another again. But so could people with a “stable affectionate connection.” Also, Italian privacy laws mean that the police cannot force anyone to reveal the identity of the object, or destination, of their affection.

Even despite the confusion, many Italians expect things to be very different in the country starting today.”

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