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Q&A: Your key questions about quarantine in Italy answered

Q&A: Your key questions about quarantine in Italy answered
A man walks along a deserted street in Venice on Wednesday March 18th. All photos: AFP
Italy has imposed nationwide quarantine measures across the country in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Here we try to answer your questions about the rules.

**Note: This article is no longer being updated and official advice may have changed.””

These answers are based on advice from the Italian interior ministry and other relevant authorities on the national rules brought in by the Italian government.

Specific rules may vary depending on where you are in Italy, with many regions now introducing their own measures

We've also heard reports of police officers in various parts of Italy interpreting the new rules and recommendations in their own way. But the best way to stay out of trouble is to follow the rules.

Can I leave my house?

Yes. If you need to. The government has since Wednesday March 10th asked everyone to stay indoors unless they have an urgent need to go out, such as for work or a medical appointment, or to buy food.

You'll also need to fill out a form when leaving the house declaring your reasons for doing so. CLICK HERE for more about this form, where to find it, and how to complete it.

Of course if you're in your garden or on your private land there are no restrictions on going outside.

Are people allowed to travel at all?
 
People are being asked to stay in their own comune where possible. You can travel between towns for:
  • An urgent, proven work-related reason.
  • Health reasons.
  • “Situations of need”, for example if there are no shops open in your area selling basic necessities.
How will they enforce these restrictions?

Anyone found breaking the quarantine rules can face criminal charges, fines of up to 3,000 euros (or more in some regions), and potentially a prison term for more serious offences.

People may need to show evidence of their need to go outside, or to travel – for example, of having an urgent medical appointment – and anyone found to have made a false claim could face criminal charges.

Of course, police are not on every corner, and not everyone will have their paperwork checked. Those who are asked why they're outside by police are often simply told to go home. But the best way to avoid any trouble is to follow the quarantine rules.

Are people banned from going to work?

The government has ordered most businesses to close. Some businesses are allowed to operate as long as they don't open to the public.

Workers in sectors deemed essentail, such as food production or waste collection, may continue to go to work, although they are likely to be on reduced hours.

Anyone commuting to work will need to fill out the standardised form declaring their reason for travel – before every single journey.

More information about this form and how to fill it out is available in a separate article HERE.

Can we go shopping?

Supermarkets, food shops, tabaccherias and pharmacies are the only shops allowed to remain open, and they are likely to have crowd control measures in place (such as a numbered ticketing system).

The government has insisted there are no shortages of essential supplies.

Queues were a common sight at supermarkets and pharmacies around Italy on Thursday 12th March. Photo: AFP

Businesses such as clothes shops and hairdressers have been ordered to close.

Italy's official government quarantine FAQ states that “one person per family” should do the shopping.

You don't necessarily have to go to your nearest small shop or supermarket for food or supplies. If you need things that are only sold at a larger supermarket, you can go there.

You are allowed to leave your local area to buy essentials, such as food or medicine, if what you need is not available within your local comune.

Many Italian supermarkets are also now offering home delivery and accepting phone or online orders.

Can I go for a run?

It depends where in Italy you are, as many regional authorities have cracked down on people exercising outdoors and you may only be allowed to do so within 200 metres of your home.

The national emergency decree doesn't ban outdoor exercise. However, ministers have urged everyone to stay indoors as much as possible, and police in many areas have been cracking down on people going outside for reasons other than buying essential suppliesn. Ayone running, walking or riding a bike may be stopped and asked to go home

Can I take the dog out?

Yes. Italy's Interior Ministry has confirmed on Thursday that you can take your dog out to do its business as well as to go to the vet. Although only one person at a time should be taking the dog out, and again, many regions don't allow you to walk the dog further than 200 metres from your home.

Are restaurants still open?

No. All restaurants, bars and cafes have now had to close to the public.

Can I order a takeaway?

Yes. Home deliveries are permitted, and this includes cooked food from restaurants and pizzerias, as well as groceries from the supermarket – despite the fact that restaurants are closed to the public

You can't pick up a takeaway from your favourite restaurant, however – you'll need to call and request home delivery.

Many other food shops including butchers, bakeries, fishmongers and gelaterias have also now announced a home delivery service.

Are government offices still open?

The decree states that “essential and urgent” services provided by government offices are guaranteed.

Your local anagrafe (registry office) or agenzia delle entrate (tax office) will not be open to the public however and services will only be available online.

Because of the closures, the government has allowed for all documents (such as drivers' licenses or residence permits) to be automatically extended.

Is transport running?

Some local public transport is running, but you should check with your local transport operator for schedule changes before leaving. Many local services are operating on a reduced schedule.

Most intercity and long distance trains have now been cancelled.

While Italy has not closed its borders or banned travellers from arriving, all but the most urgent travel is now practically impossible. Most countries advise against travel to Italy at this time, and airlines have now cancelled flights to and from Italy. Rome's Fiumicino and Ciampino airports have partially closed.

What about ferries?

As with other forms of transport, the government decree itself does not stop ferries from running – ether between Italian ports, or to and from Italy – however many companies have cut down the number of services operating.due to the fact so few people are travelling.

Sicily has banned people from arriving on the island by ferry.

Can cruise ships still dock in Italy?

No. On Thursday March 19th, Italy suspended all Italian cruise lines and closed its ports to all foreign cruise ships.

Can I cancel my train tickets because of the quarantine?

You should be able to get a refund on tickets booked with italian operators, depending on when you booked your ticket. We have detailed information about getting a refund on train tickets here.

Can I leave Italy to return home? 

Anyone visiting from overseas will be allowed by police to travel to the airport or train station in order to return home, although it may be difficult to arrange transport.

If you live in Italy and you're currently in a different part of the country to the one you're resident in, you're only allowed to travel home in case of an emergency.
 
Can I re-enter Italy to return home?
 
In an emergency situation only. The government has tightened previous rules allowing people those with residency in Italy to travel in order to return home. This is no longer allowed except for in emergencies, or for urgent, proven, health or work-related reasons.
 
While Italy has not closed its borders or banned travellers from arriving, in practice travel may not be possible. Most flights to and from Italy and long-distance trains have been cancelled. Rome's Fiumicino and Ciampino airports have partially closed.
 
There are restrictions in place at some of Italy's borders with other countries, including Austria, which has almost completely shut its border.
 
If you are outside Europe, bear in mind that the European Union has announced it is to close its external borders for 30 days.
 
The entry of non-EU nationals will be restricted unless they have visas. EU nationals and Britons will be allowed to enter the EU.
 
What should I do if I have a trip booked to Italy later this year?
 
At the moment, travel to and around Italy is nearly impossible (see above) and many countries are warning against all but essential travel to Italy.
 
Please check with your embassy before attempting to travel.
 
The current restrictions on movement are in place in Italy until April 13th and may be gradually loosened after that date.
 
If you have a trip booked after that, you might want to wait and see how the situation evolves before making a decision on whether to cancel. You'd be unlikely to be able to get a refund from your travel company for trips booked after the quarantine period.
 
Are there police in every village?

There are police checkpoints on streets and main roads and at transport hubs, where people may be stopped and asked to state their reasons for travel.

Within towns and villages, local police may stop pedestrians and ask them to give their reasons for being outside (see above).

Are weddings and funerals really banned?

Yes, and you can get into big trouble for holding or taking part in a funeral procession or wedding reception at the moment.

The funeral ban only applies to the public ceremony however. Burials continue, and priests are still able to conduct blessings behind closed doors.

Can I still get parcels and mail delivered?

Yes. The government has guaranteed that postal deliveries, like other essential services, will continue and the Italian post office confirms it is still operating.

However, postal workers will now be leaving mail and parcels in hallways rather than delivering them by hand in order to avoid physical contact.

Italy is still accepting air mail, except for in the Lombardy region – the area worst hit by the outbreak. However, postal services from many countries, including the UK, are currently unable to deliver air mail to Italy as postal flights have been cancelled.

Amazon deliveries are likely to be delayed, and the service is now only delivering “essential” itsems to relieve the burden on workers after a spike in orders.

Should I go to my doctor's/dentist's/hospital appointment?

If you have a previously scheduled medical appointment, check with your doctor's office. Clinics are rescheduling non-urgent appointments.

If you have an urgent appointment in another town and it has not been rescheduled, you are allowed to go. Police are allowing people to travel for urgent medical appointments.

Can I visit my family in another town?

The government has stated that, while you can go to assist elderly relatives if needed, it's recommended to limit contact with elderly people as much as possible to lower the risk of transmitting the virus to those most vulnerable. 

Going to join your family for a meal is not seen as a valid reason for travel, however.

What if I'm in the middle of moving house?

One reader contacted The Local to ask: “During the quarantine, Is it possible to move to a new apartment if the lease at the current apartment has expired?”

While moving to a new apartment will undoubtedly be more difficult during this period, this is an unavoidable necessity and may therefore be classed as a “situation of need”.

There is no restriction on moving goods – only people.

Will mortgage and tax payments really be suspended?

In some cases, you ma be able to suspend mortgage and some tax payments for several months The Italian government is introducing measures to ease the financial pressure on households dealling with the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Find out more about the measures and whether you can benefit here.

 


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