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Two of the nations hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic are due to begin easing confinement protocol in the coming weeks.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed this weekend that a staged easing of quarantine procedures would begin in the country May 4, with sporting activities to be allowed provided that distancing measures are observed.
In France, L’Equipe is reporting that ministerial sources have confirmed professional riders will be free to train outside individually from May 11.
France and Italy are homes for huge swathes of the professional peloton, living in cycling hotspots such as Nice and Lombardy. The news of the easing of lockdown restrictions will come as a relief for riders that have been restricted to only training inside since early March.
The easing of restrictions in Italy will allow riders to train outside providing distancing measures are respected.
“From 4 May it will be possible to play sports outdoors, in the parks, but respecting the distance of at least 2 meters,” Comte said. “Athletes of individual disciplines can also train in sports centers, but here too the essential rule of safety distance applies… If we do not respect the distance, the infections will go up again. If you love Italy, keep your distance. ”
Italy was the first European nation to experience the full ferocity of the pandemic, with a wave of infections in early March paving the way for quarantine protocol and race cancelations, with Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo among the first top-tier races to be shuttered due to health concerns. The staged re-opening of Italy will see stores, entertainment outlets and schools re-open in waves through the coming weeks.
France has been under strict lockdown since March 17. Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron had specified May 11 as the tentative date for the easing of restrictions. Reports in L’Equipe suggest that initially, only pros would be able to train on the roads, with amateurs likely to be allowed outside in the following weeks. The official announcement is expected to be made Tuesday in an official governmental exit plan.