Britain has generally been tracking Italy by two weeks and continues to be largely on the same trajectory. Italy went into lockdown on March 9, when it had recorded 97 deaths and 1,797 cases, while the UK announced its shutdown on March 23, when the death toll had reached 54 and reported cases stood at 967. 

Italy’s worst day for deaths was March 27, when 919 fatalities were recorded, while the UK reported 980 deaths on April 10, a fortnight later.

The latest official figures for Italy show its death toll had dropped to its lowest for some time at 260, with 2,324 new cases, while the UK recorded 413 deaths and 4,463 new cases on April 26.

Experts warn against full comparisons because Italy’s official death toll covers all deaths, including those in care homes and the wider community, while the UK is only recording hospital fatalities.

Under Italy’s planned move out of lockdown, citizens can start travelling within a region but not to different regions, while the UK has – but struggled to enforce – a stay at home policy that prevents motorists travelling to beauty spots or second homes. 

Funerals in Italy can take place with up to 15 people, and athletes can resume training – not just in the vicinity of their homes. Coffee bars and restaurants are expected to reopen on June 1, along withhairdressers and beauty salons. Many smaller shops have already been allowed to start trading again, but more stores will reopen – as well as museums, galleries and libraries – from May 18.

Downing Street is also said to be watching the progress of the Czech Republic, which has published a detailed timetable for ending its lockdown. Unlike the UK, the Prague government introduced the lockdown early and has limited coronavirus cases to 7,400 and deaths to just 221. The UK death toll in hospitals alone now stands at 20,735. 

Many shops are reopening in the Czech Republic after the government brought forward its five-stage lockdown exit plan. Restaurants and theatres will be the last to reopen, by May 25.

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